After weeks of hiding, Senate Republicans finally released their version of the American Health Care Act to the public on Thursday.
The 142-page “Better Care Reconciliation Act,” as the Senate bill is called, was written in near-total secrecy, with no public hearings. Even senators tasked with crafting it said they didn’t know what was in it. A draft was leaked to the media on Wednesday. Though it contains some modifications to the version the House passed in May—including more generous subsidies for people who can’t afford insurance—the New York Times reported that it is still substantially similar to that bill, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would leave 23 million more people uninsured within the next 10 years. The centerpiece of the Senate bill is a deep cut to Medicaid.
From the Times:
[T]he Senate measure, like the House bill, would phase out the extra money that the federal government has provided to states as an incentive to expand eligibility for Medicaid. And like the House measure, it would put the entire Medicaid program on a budget, ending the open-ended entitlement that now exists.
It would also repeal virtually all the tax increases imposed by the Affordable Care Act to pay for itself, in effect handing a broad tax cut to the affluent, paid for by billions of dollars sliced from Medicaid, a health care program that serves one in five Americans, not only the poor but two-thirds of those in nursing homes.
The CBO is set to release its official verdict on the bill in the coming days. A vote could come as early as next week.