What to Know About the Republican Health Care Bill
Since narrowly passing a vote in the House of Representatives on May 4, 2017, the Republican health care bill designed to replace Obamacare has sat fairly quiet in the Senate. Instead of voting on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Senate decided to draft its own health care bill instead.
The Senate has kept mum on many of the details of the plan, but below are five things you should know about it.
1. It doesn’t need Democratic support in order to pass.
Instead of opting for a traditional Senate vote, Republicans plan to pass their health care bill through a process known as budget reconciliation. Unlike a traditional vote that requires a three-fifths majority, reconciliation only needs a simple majority vote in order to pass. That means the bill could get through if 51 of the 52 Republican senators voted in favor of it, regardless of how any Democrats voted.
Even if two Republican senators decide to vote against the bill — resulting in a 50-50 tie — it would likely still pass. That’s because Vice President Mike Pence — a Republican and president of the Senate — would be called on to break the tie.
2. It’s being drafted by a team of 13 senators.
The new health care bill is being written by a team of 13 Republican senators. The team includes:
Tom Cotton (AR)
Cory Gardner (CO)
Mitch McConnell (KY)
Rob Portman (OH)
Pat Toomey (PA)
John Thune (SD)
John Cornyn (TX)
Ted Cruz (TX)
Lamar Alexander (TN)
Orrin Hatch (UT)
Mike Lee (UT)
Mike Enzi (WY)
John Barrasso (WY)
3. People with pre-existing conditions cannot be refused insurance.
The AHCA would’ve allowed insurance companies to deny coverage to people with a pre-existing condition following a lapse in coverage. This clause is not expected to be included in the Senate version of the bill.
4. States do not have to cover essential health benefits.
One key attribute of Obamacare was that insurance companies must cover “essential health benefits,” which includes things like maternity and newborn care, mental health care and substance abuse treatment, among others. The AHCA would allow each state to obtain waivers for covering those benefits. The Senate bill may contain similar provisions.
5. The fourth of July is the target date for a vote.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – KY) stated that he hopes to hold the vote before July 4, which is when Congress goes on its summer recess.