December 03, 2015

Senate Reconciliation Debate Could Send Obamacare Repeal to President’s Desk

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We’ll be watching the U.S. Senate today as it votes on a multitude of amendments as part of the annual budget reconciliation process. Thursday is informally known as vote-a-rama day, when each amendment is discussed and voted on in just 10 minutes. Past ‘vote-a-ramas’ went into the wee hours of the morning. 

Senate Republicans are closer than they have ever been to sending an ObamaCare repeal bill to the president’s desk. President Obama would veto the bill, but clearing it through Congress would be a rare legislative win for the GOP, since the House has voted 56 times to repeal all or part of ObamaCare.

With a couple of Republican defections expected, it’s unclear whether Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has the needed 51 votes, so Thursday’s roll call is expected to go down to the wire and Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) are being watched carefully.

States that expanded Medicaid would be penalized by billions of dollars if Congress repealed the federal assistance. Under ObamaCare, the federal government covers 100 percent of the costs of expanding Medicaid for the first three years and at least 90 percent of the costs thereafter, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) is one Senator who has said that she is satisfied with the proposal to wind down Obamacare and give lawmakers time to come up with a replacement.

To date, 28 states plus the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.  Over 12.3 million additional individuals are enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as of April 2015, compared to before October 2013. CHIP provides low-cost health coverage to children in families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is offering an amendment that would keep the federal government paying the entire costs of Medicaid expansion indefinitely.

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Topics: Affordable Care Act
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