Graham, Cassidy revise Obamacare repeal bill, appealing to holdouts

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Senate Republicans have made last-minute changes to an ObamaCare repeal bill to try and win over senators who are wary of the measure, Politico reported Sunday.

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-N.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) have adjusted their bill, meant to repeal ObamaCare, in order to help states home to lawmakers who have expressed skepticism of the plan.

Arizona, Kentucky and Alaska would each see an increase in federal funding under the law, instead of losing federal dollars as they would have under the original bill, according to Politico, who obtained a copy of the updated bill.

Arizona’s funding would reportedly increase by 14 percent, while Kentucky’s would jump up by 4 percent and Alaska’s by 3 percent.

Each of those states’ senators — John McCain (R-Ariz.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — have either said they wouldn’t back the original bill or expressed skepticism over it.

The changes come before a key deadline for the GOP – they have until Sept. 30 to pass the bill with a simple majority. After that date, they will need 60 votes to pass the bill.

On Sunday — before the latest bill text was publicly released — Trump tweeted that key states with holdout senators would win under the latest plan. “Alaska, Arizona, Maine and Kentucky are big winners in the Healthcare proposal,” the president tweeted at 6:21 p.m.

But critics of the repeal efforts said updated projections from the bill’s authors were misleading. “Their estimates [still] project a reduction in federal funding for Alaska, Arizona, Kentucky and West Virginia,” Toper Spiro, a health analyst with the left-leaning Center for American Progress, wrote on Twitter. He said the bill’s authors were accounting for money states saved as a result of ending Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion to low-income adults, which is overwhelmingly funded by the federal government but requires states to pay a fraction of the cost.

Some of the revisions made to the bill are intended to pass muster with the Senate parliamentarian, who can rule out provisions that don’t adhere to the strict rules of the budget procedure Republicans are using to repeal Obamacare. For instance, a new provision (Sec. 204) establishes conditions for states receiving funding grants and making insurance market changes that are intended to comply with the parliamentarian’s rules. Provisions flagged by the parliamentarian would be stripped out or subject to a 60-vote threshold that would run into certain opposition from Democrats.

After Sept. 30, Republicans would need 60 votes, rather than 50, to gut the health care law.

Spokespeople for Graham and Cassidy did not immediately respond to requests for comment tonight.

 

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