Senate Homeland Security Committee Tees Up Health Care Hearing

Juliegrace Brufke | Capitol Hill Reporter

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs announced it will hold a hearing on block grants Sept. 26 as top GOP lawmakers in the upper chamber attempt to revive their efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.

While Homeland Security may not be the traditional committee of jurisdiction over health care issues, it is chaired by GOP Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, one of the most vocal critics of the lack of transparency during Congress’ initial attempt to scrap the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Senate leadership called on the Congressional Budget Office to rush scoring on legislation — released by Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Dean Heller of Nevada and Johnson — aimed at replacing Medicaid expansion and insurance subsidies with block grants provided to the states.

The hearing, titled “Block Grants: How States Can Reduce Health Care Costs, will focus on key elements of the proposal.

GOP leadership is hoping Graham-Cassidy can gain the support needed to pass repeal-and-replace legislation in the wake of the Senate’s failure to pass “skinny repeal” in late July. Cassidy told reporters Friday he believes they are just two votes shy of the 50 votes needed to pass the measure using the reconciliation process.

Despite a number of members optimism, leadership still faces hurdles in swaying hesitant members.

Conservative Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has repeatedly railed against the measure, arguing it’s “Obamacare lite” and doesn’t do enough to repeal key provisions of the ACA.

GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine have not yet committed to voting for the measure.

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