NJ Democrats criticize Senate healthcare bill
WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans released their long-awaited bill Thursday to dismantle much of Barack Obama's health care law to criticism from most of New Jersey's congressional delegation with one notable exception.
The bill proposes to cut Medicaid for low-income Americans and erase tax boosts that Obama imposed on high-earners and medical companies to finance his expansion of coverage. The bill would provide tax credits to help people buy insurance. It would also let states get waivers to ignore some coverage standards that "Obamacare" requires of insurers.
Congressman Frank Pallone in a statement called it a "mean spirited proposal" and "heartless."
"The Senate’s Trumpcare bill would still rip health care away from millions of Americans, could strip protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and allow insurance companies to charge older Americans five times more for coverage than younger Americans. The Senate bill also makes similarly devastating cuts to Medicaid in order to give giant tax breaks to the wealthiest few. The Medicaid cuts would ration care for more than 70 million Americans, the overwhelming majority of whom are seniors in nursing homes, pregnant women, and children."
In a tweet, Sen. Robert Menendez called it "downright nasty."
“Senate Republicans are deceitfully calling this bill ‘better care,’ but it’s actually ‘badder care.’ It’s not any better, in fact it’s not even care at all. This plan is still a tax break for the very wealthy disguised as ‘care’ for American families," 1st DIstrict Congressman Donald Norcross wrote.
Congressman Tom MacArthur, whose proposal to address concerns about pre-existing conditions was considered key to getting the House to pass the bill, said in a statement he supports the bill. I knew that taking a leading role in negotiations would make me a political target, but simply walking away from this problem and letting millions of people be hurt by congressional inaction was not an option. Moving a bill to the Senate - even an imperfect one - was imperative and my amendment made that possible."
The measure represents the Senate GOP's effort to achieve a top tier priority for President Donald Trump and virtually all Republican members of Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hopes to push it through his chamber next week.
Yet it faces an uncertain fate in the Senate.
At least a half-dozen GOP senators — conservatives as well as moderates — have complained about the proposal, the secrecy with which McConnell drafted it and the speed with which he'd like to whisk it to passage. Facing unanimous Democratic opposition, the bill would fail if just three of the Senate's 52 GOP senators oppose it.
The measure would provide $50 billion over the next four years that states could use in an effort to shore up insurance markets around the country.
For the next two years, it would also provide money that insurers use to help lower out-of-pocket costs for millions of lower income people. Trump has been threatening to discontinue those payments, and some insurance companies have cited uncertainty over those funds as reasons why they are abandoning some markets and boosting premiums.
The House approved its version of the bill last month. Though he lauded its passage in a Rose Garden ceremony, Trump last week privately called the House measure "mean" and called on senators to make their version more "generous."
Democrats say GOP characterizations of Obama's law as failing are wrong and say the Republican plan would boot millions off coverage and leave others facing higher out-of-pocket costs.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the House bill would cause 23 million people to lose coverage by 2026. The budget office's analysis of the Senate measure is expected in the next few days.
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