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Senator Schatz speaks out on Senate health care bill

"I think they have, at best, a 50-50 chance of passing this bill", Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of NY said on ABC. He said free-market competition has been driven out of the health insurance industry and the bill amounts to a Band-Aid.

Heller said that to win his vote, GOP leaders would have to "protect Medicaid expansion states" from the bill's current cuts. That's Julie Rovner, chief Washington correspondent at Kaiser Health News. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who has not suggested she opposes the measure, declined to comment on its components when asked at a news conference Friday. Julie, thank you so much for joining us. They say the GOP plan would mean fewer people with coverage and higher costs for many. The bill also makes major cuts and structural changes to Medicaid, a health insurance program relied upon by almost 75 million Americans - primarily low-income, disabled, and elderly.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was urging Democrats to post stories on social media on constituents whose health care coverage would be threatened.

"It is going to make insurance more expensive". Pre-existing conditions would have enormous premiums excluding many from any coverage.

The addition of the six-month waiting period to Senate's Better Care Act, however, could make it more hard for Republicans in the chamber to pass the measure with the budget reconciliation process. He says the bill offers too many tax credits that help poorer people to buy insurance. Currently, there is no cap on Medicaid spending - states are guaranteed at least $1 in federal funding for every $1 they spend, and increases in federal funding are considered mandatory spending, rising automatically.

Sen. Susan Collins of ME says she thinks getting the votes needed in the Senate this week to pass a Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act could be very hard. Those are exactly the people the Republicans have been complaining about. They're trying to cut nursing home care.

MARTIN: This is also a longtime goal, mainly Republicans but also some Democrats, to kind of rein in this very significant entitlement program. How would it work under this Senate bill?

ROVNER: It's somewhat similar to the House bill, although the cuts would go even deeper. Later in the interview, Cassidy - a physician - seemed to indicate he'd like to see Medicaid turned into block grants for the states, a position supported by many Republicans and denounced by Democrats and some Republican governors. It covers whatever people are eligible - for basically whatever they need medically.

"If we get to impasse, if we go to a bill that is more repeal and less big government programs, yes, I'll consider partial repeal", he said.

MARTIN: How would this work at the state level? Essentially the state governments become the primary decision makers on who gets Medicaid now as opposed to having it be available to everybody who meet certain criteria? They could cut benefits.

MARTIN: And politically, where do things stand with this in the Senate right now?

ROVNER: Well, of course, there's only 52 Republicans in the Senate. "They did just fine", he said. The plan will be presented before the July 4 holiday and it could include a final provision that will permit the Senate to replace all the provisions of the bill with a totally different bill without any additional vote. "There are things in this bill which adversely affect my state that are peculiar to my state, a couple of things I'm concerned about", Cassidy said. Now, this is a discussion draft.

We're going to have to see what the Congressional Budget Office says about what this would do the insurance system and what it would do the federal deficit. But whichever direction they move the bill, they're likely to lose votes at the other side.

MARTIN: That's Julie Rovner.

"We don't have enough information". Julie Rovner, thank you so much for speaking with us.



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