Medicaid expansion could survive under Senate's version of ACA repeal bill

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The Senate may vote on its version of the bill before August, Price said.
The Senate may vote on its version of the bill before August, Price said.

Existing Medicaid expansion could be preserved under a Senate version of the American Health Care Act.

The GOP version of the bill meant to replace Obamacare was passed in the House in early May. Negotiations are currently underway for the Senate's version of the bill, which is expected to contain Medicaid provisions that differ greatly from House legislation.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., predicted this week that a vote on the legislation could come before the Senate breaks for recess in August.

While much of the negotiations on the House bill centered around pre-existing conditions, the Senate is expected to spend more time grappling on potential changes to the Medicaid program, The New York Times reported.

A total of 62 Senators, including 12 Republicans, hail from states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA.  The House bill's potential cuts to the Medicaid program — estimated to clock in at more than $800 million — make the legislation unlikely to win over lawmakers from Medicaid expansion states and pass the Senate. Potential cuts to Medicaid have drawn the ire of long-term care provider groups.

Senators have entertained the possibility of maintaining Medicaid expansion but imposing limits on spending within the program, or modifying how per-capita caps are calculated, the Times said.

Greg Moody, director of Ohio's Office of Health Transformation, told the newspaper that  attempts to repeal and replace the ACA have been “leveraged, by a sleight of hand, into reform of the entire Medicaid program.”

The Senate bill debate is expected to last for several more weeks, with many lawmakers saying they could not engage in legitimate discussions until the final Congressional Budget Office analysis on the House bill arrives.