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Republicans introduce latest health bill

July 13, 2017

US President Donald Trump has said he will be "very angry" if his Senate leader fails to pass the new bill, but can he lure in the factions? The latest proposal attempts to draw in votes from both ends of the party.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to a meeting of Republican senators
Image: Getty Images/W. McNamee

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell unveiled the new healthcare proposal on Thursday, the latest bid to fulfill Trump's promise of ending Obamacare.

The new Senate bill was intended to satisfy Republicans from both conservative and moderate factions, who are crucial if they wish to pass the bill next week. It needs support from at least 50 out of 52 Republicans to pass, after the Democrats vowed unanimously to vote against it.

McConnell had yanked the previous version after 10 Republicans said they would not support the previous version of the bill.

Read more: US Senate delays vote on controversial health care law

The new bills hopes to lure in conservative factions by letting insurers sell low-cost, bare-bones policies and hopes to lure moderates with added billions to combat opioid abuse and help states rein in consumers' skyrocketing insurance costs.

No. 3 Senate Republican leader John Thune of South Dakota said, "We've got a long way ahead of us yet. The floor is going to be a wild place next week."

Read more: What a health care bill's failure could mean for the Trump presidency


Eliminating Obamacare

As in the previous version, this draft eliminates a fundamental principle of Obamacare - the requirement that almost everyone obtain health insurance or face fines, according to a summary of the bill released by the Senate Budget Committee.

It also still includes cuts of more than $700 billion (614 billion euros) from the Medicaid federal health care program for the poor and disabled, a move that Republican centrists said could devastate millions of families.

The new bill adds an extra $70 billion to state funds that help insurers curb the growth of premiums and consumers' other out-of-pocket costs, on top of the $112 billion earmarked under the previous version. It also adds $45 billion to support opioid abuse treatment programs and individuals with mental disorders.

The latest revision scraps plans to repeal two taxes on wealthy Americans that help fund Obamacare, and also drops a repeal of a tax on health insurance executives.

The measure would still eliminate other tax boosts Obama levied on insurers, pharmaceutical producers and other health industry companies.

Protests against US health care reforms
The Trumpcare reform has proved highly controversial in the USImage: picture alliance/dpa/E. Mcgregor

Just as mean as the old one

Concessions to conservatives include giving each state the flexibility to let insurance companies offer cheap, no-frills plans alongside those that include certain health benefits mandated by Obamacare.

A summary of the bill said some stripped-down policies would cover three primary care visits per year and limit out-of-pocket costs, and said consumers could use federal tax credits to help pay for them.

"The new Republican Trumpcare bill is every bit as mean as the old one," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York. He said the provision allowing scanty coverage makes it "even meaner."

Trump said Wednesday he will be "very angry" if the Senate fails to pass the health care measure and said McConnell must "pull it off."

aw/rt (AP, AFP)