Senate Republicans will likely miss a deadline they set to vote on health reform by the end of the month, and it’s possible final passage of a healthcare bill could be delayed beyond the month-long August recess.
Voting in June would allow senators to beat the Fourth of July recess, and the longer discussions on healthcare continue, the longer the GOP must delay some of its bigger goals, including tax reform. But there is a lot still left for Republicans in the senate to accomplish by the end of June, reports Politico.
The Senate’s version of the American Health Care Act isn’t even fully written, as senators continue to resolve disagreements over cuts to Medicaid, calls to defund Planned Parenthood and when to cut taxes outlined in the Affordable Care Act. And that’s before awaiting a score from the Congressional Budget Office and taking a series of procedural votes on legislation, all while keeping party members on board and fighting off obstructive Democrats.
“You know, I thought that was a stretch anyway,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., told Politico.
Some of the more moderate party members have proposed keeping some of the ACA’s taxes intact in a new bill, reports Reuters, and that idea is gaining traction in the discussions. But it’s a move that would likely alienate the more conservative wing of the GOP, and the Republicans can only afford to lose two votes if they want to pass a healthcare bill through budget reconciliation.
Some GOP senators have proposed keeping the law’s net investment income tax, while eliminating the much-maligned Cadillac tax and the medical device tax. Others have called for keeping all of the ACA’s taxes, but scaling them back, according to the article. Some senators have also looked at other taxes on employer-sponsored plans as a possible funding source.
“I think most of the taxes are going to go away,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., told Reuters. “Our members are still having a conversation about if we want to make changes that are in the end going to require some additional revenue.”
Some senators also want to give governors time to review the bill before holding a vote. But a draft has yet to be made public. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-AK., a key swing vote for the GOP, told Vox that constituents had contacted her to vote against the proposal—but she couldn't form a final opinion as she had not seen anything definitive yet.
If the Senate’s bill looks similar to the House’s version, however, she’s opposed, as Murkowski told the publication that legislation “does not help Alaska.” Premiums are rising in the ACA’s individual markets, but reducing access to insurance through cuts to Medicaid isn’t the answer, she said.
“I don't know what it is that will actually come forward. This has been part of my frustration. What's the Senate bill going to look like? I don't know,” Murkowski said.