House Republicans who squeezed through the Obamacare repeal are meeting with outrage from angry constituents. Among other things, the public, and even some Senate Republicans, have complained that there were no public hearings for the House health bill. Now the Senate is writing its own health care bill, and the process so far has been another secretive one. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said that the Senate repeal bill is unlikely to go through the committee process, with no hearings.
Senate Republicans don’t need to get support from Democrats on their bill because they hope to pass it using the reconciliation process. Since the Republicans have only a 52 - member majority in the Senate, that process would allow passage without having to get a 60 - member filibuster-proof majority. But there’s a catch: lawmakers will need to achieve the same overall savings as the House bill, in order to use that special process.
To find those savings, the Senate would have to ignore the House version’s tax cuts that end an important source of Medicare funding, if they want to restore some of the premium subsidies or Medicaid funding that the House version cuts. The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that those tax cuts would cost the federal government more than $600 billion in revenue. Leaving those tax cuts out of the repeal legislation would allow room to restore more funding.
The Medicare revenues in question affect the nation’s highest - paid workers who earn more than $200,000, and high - income people with investment income. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, under the House GOP bill, 400 households with the highest income in the U.S would get tax cuts worth more than the premium subsidies received by 800,000 people in 20 states and Washington D.C. Those 400 households whose annual incomes average more than $300 million apiece would each receive an annual tax cut of about $7 million.
According to a TSCL poll conducted prior to passage of the House Obamacare repeal, only 14% of respondents favored an Obamacare repeal and just 20% supported repealing and replacing Obamacare. The majority, 65%, are opposed to an Obamacare repeal, particularly one like the American Health Care Act that cuts funding for both Medicare and Medicaid.
TSCL encourages you to speak out and often. Contact your Members of Congress and tell them that Medicare and Medicaid funding is not to be used as an ATM for the nation’s wealthiest families.
Sources: “Hatch: Senate’s Obamacare Repeal Unlikely To Go Through Committee,” Jessie Hellmann, The Hill, May 9, 2017. “Senate GOP Plans Secret Health Care Debate That May Take Months,” Laura Litvan and Steven Dennis, Bloomberg, May 9, 2017. “ACA Repeal Would Lavish Medicare Tax Cuts ON 400 Highest-Income Households,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, January 12, 2017.