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Washington's biggest secret is LEAKED: Draft of Senate health care bill reveals Republican plan to kill Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood

Senate health care bill draft is leaked

  • The Washington Post got its hands on a draft of the Senate health care bill, which was being passed among lobbyists and aides
  • The bill would repeal most of the taxes that pay for Obamacare and roll back the Medicaid expandion the Affordable Care Act called for 
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell said he expected the bill to be released publicly on Thursday and voted on next week  

The Senate health care bill, being drafted by Republicans behind closed doors, finally came to light. 

The Washington Post got a draft of the legislation Wednesday afternoon, which was being passed among lobbyists and aides. 

The bill would repeal most of the taxes that pay for Obamacare, roll back expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, reshape its subsidies, give states wider latitude to opt out of its regulations and eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood. 

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., can only lose two members of his Republican caucus, as no Democrats are expected to vote in favor of the GOP-led health care bill 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., can only lose two members of his Republican caucus, as no Democrats are expected to vote in favor of the GOP-led health care bill 

President Trump, in a meeting with tech titans, reportedly told them he wanted to see a Senate GOP health care bill with 'more heart' 

President Trump, in a meeting with tech titans, reportedly told them he wanted to see a Senate GOP health care bill with 'more heart' 

The Senate legislation would link federal insurance subsidies to income, a change from a House-passed bill that tied them to age, the Post reported.

The Senate bill also cuts off Obamacare's Medicaid expansion more gradually than the House legislation, which passed on May 4. 

It removes language restricting federally subsidized health plans from covering abortions. 

Before this draft came to light, President Trump said in a private meeting with tech CEOs that he wanted to see a Senate health care bill with with 'more heart,' according to CNBC, after complaining behind closed doors that the House GOP Obamacare repeal bill was 'mean.' 

The discussion on Capitol Hill, however, was focused on meeting a Fourth of July deadline.  

'I expect to have a discussion draft on Thursday,' Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., confirmed Tuesday afternoon, according to the Washington Examiner. 'And we'll go to the bill obviously once we get a CBO score. Likely next week.' 

A publicly-released draft is still expected Thursday, with McConnell presenting it to senators at a morning meeting, the Post reported. 

The bill has been crafted in private – much to the chagrin of the Democrats who have been complaining about it for weeks. 

Trump's comments suggest he'd like to see a more moderate bill coming out of the Senate, as the Congressional Budget Office forecasted that the House-passed American Health Care Act would cause 23 million more Americans to be uninsured than if the government stuck with Obamacare.  

Press Secretary Sean Spicer agreed that the president wanted a bill with 'more heart,' though wouldn't talk specifically about what President Trump might dislike in terms of a bill 

Press Secretary Sean Spicer agreed that the president wanted a bill with 'more heart,' though wouldn't talk specifically about what President Trump might dislike in terms of a bill 

HARD TO GET: The Washington Post suspects that it will be difficult to sell the bill to libertarian Sen. Rand Paul (pictured), R-Ky., and moderate Sen. Susan Collins, R-Alaska
HARD TO GET: The Washington Post suspects that it will be difficult to sell the bill to libertarian Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and moderate Sen. Susan Collins (pictured), R-Alaska

HARD TO GET: The Washington Post suspects that it will be difficult to sell the bill to libertarian Sen. Rand Paul (left), R-Ky., and moderate Sen. Susan Collins (right), R-Alaska 

But Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, (right) has also expressed hesitations, saying she wants the expansion of Medicaid to continue and Planned Parenthood funding  to go untouched 

But Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, (right) has also expressed hesitations, saying she wants the expansion of Medicaid to continue and Planned Parenthood funding  to go untouched 

During Monday's off-camera White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer wouldn't confirm or deny Trump had called the House iteration of health care reform 'mean.' 

'I'm not going to comment on rumors that came out of a private meeting,' Spicer told reporters. 

But on Tuesday, Spicer said, 'the president clearly wants a bill that has heart,' confirming CNBC's reporting.

'He believes that health care is something that is near and dear to so many families and individuals,' Spicer said.  

'He made it clear from the beginning that that was one of his priorities and as the Senate works its way through this bill as the House did, any ideas are welcome to strengthen it, to make it more affordable, accessible and deliver the care that it needs, but this is an area that the president believes passionately about,' the press secretary continued.  

'He cares. He understands the role that health care plays in their lives and their families' and he wants to make sure we do everything we can to provide the best option for them as Obamacare continues to fail,' Spicer added. 

Spicer then moved away from giving specifics, saying he wouldn't 'get into the private discussions that occurred.'  

Like House Speaker Paul Ryan, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has had to balance the interests of conservatives and moderates within his caucus. 

Democrats have not been privy to the health care negotiations and none are expected to support the GOP-led health care bill, as Republicans try to drown President Obama's signature legislative accomplishment. 

Now they fear, as the new bill won't go through committee, that Republicans will quickly pass it without time allotted for amendments and discussion. 

'Will we have time – more than 10 hours, since this is a complicated bill – to review the bill?' Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., asked McConnell Monday from the Senate floor. 'Will it be available to us and the public more than 10 hours before we have to go vote for it?' 

'Since our leader has said – our Republican leader – that there will be plenty of time for a process where people can make amendments,' Schumer continued. 'You need time to prepare those amendments.' 

McConnell didn't make any promises. 

'I think we’ll have ample opportunity to read and amend the bill,' the Senate majority leader said twice, the second time after Schumer, again, asked about the 10 hours.  

'I rest my case,' Schumer replied. 

At the White House, Spicer dismissed Democrats' complaints that they weren't included in writing the Senate bill. 

'They have chosen ... to not make themselves part of this process,' Spicer said, pointing to comments made by Schumer in which the minority leader said the Democrats would never take part of dismantling Obamacare. 

Spicer explained that it differed from similar complaints Republicans made when Obamacare was being authored because, 'I think we wanted to be part of the process back then,' the press secretary said.

Because Republicans are using a process called reconciliation, arguing the bill is budget-specific, only a simple majority is needed to get the legislation through the Senate. 

Still, with the Senate divided 52-48, McConnell can only afford to lose two votes, with Vice President Mike Pence coming in and placing a tie-breaker.  

The Washington Post suspects that McConnell will lose a Republican on each end of the spectrum, pointing to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a libertarian who was the one 'no' vote on the budget resolution that initiated the whole process, along with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, by far the most moderate senator in the GOP caucus. 

However, other Republicans seem to be wavering too. 

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Ala., said she supported a number of components already found in Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, that the Senate Republican health care bill would likely strip away. 

'I am committed to ensuring that important provisions of the ACA, such as covering those with pre-existing conditions, continued support for Medicaid expansion, coverage for dependents and no lifetime limits, and funding for Planned Parenthood remain intact,' she said in a constituent letter, obtained by Politico.  

The 151-member Republican Study Committee of House members sent a letter to McConnell making their own demands, according to the Washington Examiner, which are practically opposite of everything Murkowski called for. 

The group, which was once chaired by Pence, is worried that the Senate bill will be too moderate for their tastes, as they support phasing out the Medicaid expansion beginning in 2020, along with barring federal family planning funds from going to clinics that perform abortions, which would impact Planned Parenthood. 

Eventually the House bill, which passed in early May, and the Senate version will have to be reconciled. 

 

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