The Health 202: Here’s what’s in the Senate health-care bill

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The Senate version of the repeal (and “replacement”) of the Affordable Care Act — which Mitch McConnell is now sharing with Senate Republicans — eliminates just about all of its extra taxes on the rich by deeply cutting Medicaid and reducing subsidies to the poor. But McConnell figures he can keep moderate Republicans in the fold (he needs almost all their votes) by delaying these provisions and allowing states to reduce insurance coverage.

The plan:

1. Basically retains Obamacare’s insurance subsidies. But starting in 2020 this assistance wouldn’t be available for most of the working-class who now receive them, nor for anyone ineligible for Medicaid. See #2.

2. Cuts Medicaid more deeply than the House version by giving states an amount per person that grows more slowly than the growth in healthcare costs. This provision won’t kick in for 7 years, well past senators’ next reelection battles.

3. Ends the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion in 5 years — gradually reducing the extra federal payments starting in 2021.

4. Continues to protect patients with preexisting conditions, but allows states to reduce insurance coverage to everyone, including people with preexisting conditions.

In other words, all cuts are made through the back door of delays and state waivers. It only looks like a kinder, gentler version of the House repeal of the Affordable Care Act — but 7 to 10 years from now its result would be even crueler.

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