Deeper Medicaid cuts reportedly in Senate health bill

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Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing for a quick vote while also promising "plenty" of time to review the bill.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing for a quick vote while also promising "plenty" of time to review the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) planned to share on Thursday morning a so-called “discussion draft” of a health reform bill that is likely to cause long-term providers a lot of worry.

According to congressional aides and lobbyists familiar with the secretive negotiations, the bill would cut off Medicaid expansion at a slower pace than the House-passed bill, but the Senate version would ultimately slice more funding.

Medicaid is the top payer of nursing home services. This fact has led long-term care lobbyists and operators, who have already spoken out strongly against the House bill, very nervous about the Senate version.

Aides said there likely will be more tweaks to the version airing Thursday in order to achieve the 50 votes needed to pass the measure. Republican moderates and conservatives have been divided on numerous aspects of the health reform bills, while Democrats have rejected them outright.

What will be unveiled Thursday, according to the Washington Post, is similar to the House's American Health Care Act, which passed strictly on party lines in May. Insurance subsidies in the Senate version, however, would be keyed on income — like the Affordable Care Act it aims to replace — while the House version would link them to age.

McConnell's goal has been to hold a Senate vote by June 30 — before lawmakers head home for the July 4th recess. Intense lobbying and negotiations are expected to take place until that time — and beyond since any Senate-passed bill would eventually have to be reconciled with the House version.

The Senate Majority Leader has said that fellow Senators, most of whom have not seen any of what's in the measure, will have “plenty of time” to review the bill and the process, which will be “about as transparent as it can be.” No public hearings have been held to this point.