for the week ending March 24, 2017
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The American Healthcare Act is mired in the swamp of contention, ideological, and partisan muck but a determined Leadership is not about to give up. The Thursday vote was called off but a vote may happen on Friday, March 24th if House Republican Leadership can gather up 218 votes to pass the bill. Most are skeptical of their success.
Democrats have taken a back seat to various conservative factions who oppose the bill, mostly because it seems to them to be too generous with Medicaid and by requiring that insurers cover the ten essential coverage points that the Affordable Care Act requires.
While Democrats are riled at the reductions in Medicaid spending calculated by CBO and other organizations to cause a massive number of individuals who will lose their coverage and older Americans experiencing meteoric increases in premiums the holdup comes directly from Republican caucuses some of who question if it is the government’s role to provide healthcare support to others who don’t think the Medicaid cuts are deep enough.
Back-to-back meetings between the House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) and recalcitrant caucus members and the Thursday meeting between Trump and the far right conservative Freedom Caucus bore no fruit causing Leadership to conclude it does not have the votes to pass the bill.
And that’s just the House; because there are provisions on the bill to allow States to drug test benefit recipients the bill as is would violate Senate rules and could not be considered. The Senate can use reconciliation to pass the bill with a simple majority (51) the reconciliation rule does not allow the bill to be considered if it contains policy provision which the drug testing provision is.
Where to from here is the question. The bill removes all but one tax-based revenue that floated the Affordable Care Act which is fine with Republicans and revises Medicaid to a block grant to States that reduces the amount of Medicaid spending that Republicans also like but a significant number of House Republicans want the Medicaid cuts to go deeper. Leadership ideology could probably support further cuts but it may be the President’s position to provide ‘healthcare for all’ that is unyielding. For the bill to make it into law it has to get out of the House and Senate. The lines are drawn there and they conflict with the President’s campaign promises.
Senators agreed to three resolution that aim to roll back regulations; SJR 34 removes the rule that requires broadband providers to protect the identity and rights of those to whom they provide the Internet services; HJR 83 prohibits the Office of Safety and Health Administration from requiring the keeping of reports on workplace accidents; and HJR 83 allows the indiscriminant taking of wildlife for no sport or nutrition reasons but rather to protect trophy animals such as Elk from being eaten by the wildlife that can now be taken. Senators also agreed with the House on HR 244 that honors through a presidential medal or recognition employers who hire veterans.
The House took up several bills relating to the Department of Homeland Security that were schedule but not debated last week due to inclement weather. The House also passed HR 1029, a bipartisan bill regarding pesticides; HR 382 recognizing 100 years of women represented n Capitol Hill and other bills relating to the repeal and replace matter. HR 372 removes a current law status relieving health insurers of exposure to anti-trust laws, and HR 1101 regarding employer-provided health insurance.
Doug Elmdorf on the American Healthcare Act
All about Russian expanding in the Middle East and Asia.
Magic Mondays with Rep Marc Pocan (Video)
Political Crash Course – Identifying Political Ideology (Video)
The Senate and House are adjourning and will return to work Monday, March 28th. The next edition of TheWeekinCongress.com will be published Thursday evening, March 31st.
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