Providers spared $800 billion in Medicaid funding withdrawal, unsure of what comes next

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Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Providers breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday morning following the death of the GOP healthcare bill, even as Republicans said they'd move forward with a straight repeal.

The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living is appreciative of those senators who “hit the pause button for this debate,” President and CEO Mark Parkinson said Tuesday morning.

“On behalf of the nation's long-term care providers, caregivers, patients and families, we look forward to a collaborative dialogue with policymakers on providing quality care that meets the needs of the most vulnerable citizens.”

A fellow Kansan with similar wishes helped break the logjam Monday night, giving providers reason to exhale — at least temporarily.

Late Monday, Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas rejected the Republican measure. Moran was the only Republican senator who held unscreened town halls on healthcare the first week of July, where constituents repeatedly spoke about their concerns over Medicaid cuts.

“We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy," Moran said on Twitter. He also criticized the way the bill was created through a "closed-door process" and said the Senate must "start fresh" with open hearings and debate.

Moran and Lee joined Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine, who voiced their opposition immediately last week, meaning the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” would fall short of the 50 votes required for passage.

The development offers a reprieve to the skilled care sector, as the Senate proposal would have dramatically trimmed growth in the field's largest funding source – Medicaid – by nearly $800 billion over the next decade. The House had already passed a bill nearly as austere, making Senate approval the linchpin to potential evisceration of Medicaid funding for providers.

American Medical Association President David O. Barbe, M.D., warned Tuesday morning that “the health reform debate is by no means over” and urged stabilization in the health insurance market.

“Congress must begin a collaborative process that produces a bipartisan approach to improve healthcare in our country,” Barbe said.

After conceding defeat late Monday night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) said the upper chamber would simply focus on repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Congress passed a bill to repeal Obamacare last year, but then-President Obama vetoed the measure. Speculation Tuesday morning among observers centered on whether the Republican party could muster enough unity to pass a similar bill, which undoubtedly would be signed into law by President Donald Trump.

In tweets Tuesday morning Trump wrote, “We were let down by all of the Democrats and a few Republicans. Most Republicans were loyal, terrific & worked really hard. We will return!” and “As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned!”