Republican leaders, aiming to salvage efforts backed by President Donald Trump
to dismantle the Obamacare
law, on Thursday unveiled revised healthcare legislation that lets insurers sell bare-bones policies and retains key taxes on the wealthy.’
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, known as a skillful tactician, released the updated legislation in a bid to unite disparate Republican factions and make good on his party's seven-year mission to gut Democratic Former President Barack Obama's signature legislative achievement. The proposal replaces an earlier one that deeply divided Trump's fellow Republicans, who control the Senate, drawing opposition from both moderates and hard-line conservatives. McConnell has planned for a vote on the new bill next week.
The revised plan included conservative Senator Ted Cruz's proposal to let insurers offer stripped-down, low-cost healthcare plans
that do not comply with Obamacare
regulations to cover certain health benefits.
Those benefits include maternity
and newborn care, mental health services and addiction treatment, outpatient care, hospitalisation, emergency room visits and prescription drugs.
Insurer groups, including the national Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, have derided these "skinny plans," saying they would raise insurance
premiums, destabilize the individual insurance
market and undermine protections for pre-existing medical
The legislation retained two taxes on the wealthy that helped pay for the Obamacare
law. They are: a 3.8 percent tax on net investment income
for individuals earning more than $200,000 and couples earning more than $250,000; and an 0.9 percent surtax for the Medicare insurance
program for the elderly on people with those incomes.
The bill retained the previous draft bill's phaseout of the Obamacare
expansion of the Medicaid government health insurance
program for the poor and disabled and sharp cuts to federal Medicaid spending beginning in 2025. Like the earlier version, it would repeal certain Obamacare
taxes, end a penalty on individuals who do not obtain insurance
and overhaul Obamacare
subsidies to help people buy insurance
with tax credits.