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Posted: July 13, 2017

New Senate health care bill: What is in the revised plan?

By Debbie Lord, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

A revised health care bill is set to be unveiled Thursday, as leaders in the Senate say they are working hard to get the 50 votes needed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday he hopes to have the new bill scored by the Congressional Budget Office and up for a vote by next week. The “score” is a budget analysis of a piece of legislation.

The revised bill grew out of the controversy over the Senate’s first attempt to repeal the ACA, also known as Obamacare. A vote on that bill was canceled after it became clear that Senate leaders did not have the 50 Republican votes needed to pass the bill.

Senate Democrats have pledged not to vote for a GOP repeal of the ACA.

Here’s a look at what may be in the new bill.

What’s new?

1. What could be included in the bill is an amendment proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz, (R-Texas), and Sen. Mike Lee, (R-Utah), that gives insurance companies the option of offering less expensive health care plans that do not force customers to pay for the essential health benefits Obamacare required. Companies would be allowed to do that only if they provide at least one plan that includes those essential health benefits.

According to healthcare.gov, essential health benefits include, “doctors’ services, inpatient and outpatient hospital care, prescription drug coverage, pregnancy and childbirth, mental health services, and more. Some plans cover more services. Plans must offer dental coverage for children. Dental benefits for adults are optional. Specific services may vary based on your state’s requirements. You’ll see exactly what each plan offers when you compare plans.”

2. An increase in funds available to states to help deal with the problem of opioid abuse. In the new plan, $45 billion would be available to states. In the old plan, it was $2 billion.

What from the first Senate bill likely stays in the revised bill?

1. The ACA requirement that insurers cover specified services.

2. The plan to reduce funds for Medicaid (the health care program for the poor, disabled and those in nursing homes) would set a fixed amount to be given to states.

3.The plan to eliminate the ACA tax penalty on people who don't buy health care coverage.

4. The plan to cut federal subsidies for health care coverage.

5. The new bill will likely keep the ACA taxes that the first bill would have repealed. The taxes include a 3.8 percent tax on net investment income for high-income earners, a 0.9 percent Medicare surtax, and the “insurance executive tax break.”

The tax on net investment income imposes a 3.8 percent surtax on income a person gains from investments. It affects couples with more than $250,000 of adjusted gross income, and single tax filers with more than $200,000 of adjusted gross income. 

The Medicare surtax is an additional Medicare tax for couples who make more than $250,000 and single tax filers who make more than $200,000.

The “insurance executive tax break” allows a health care insurance company to deduct from its taxes up to $500,000 of the pay of each top executive in the company.

The Senate will stay in session for the first two weeks in August, per orders from McConnell, to work on the health care legislation and other items.

Sources: The Associated Press; The Washington Post; taxfoundation.com; healthcare.gov.

 


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