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New Iteration of AHCA Released: Public Health Watch Special Report

The latest (and last?) version of the AHCA still calls for significant cuts to Medicaid, starting in 2025, ending the funds for expansion of the program under the ACA in 2024. Notably, though, the new bill includes the so-called “Cruz-Lee Amendment” (named for its authors, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah), which would enable insurers to offer plans that do not meet all of the requirements set forth in the ACA, including protection for people with preexisting conditions. The idea is that this will allow insurers to offer cheaper plans to healthier people.
Interestingly, Senator Lee has, The Hill notes, indicated that he was not involved in the drafting of this version of the bill—or his namesake amendment—and that he will need to review the revised text before determining whether he will support it.
In a nod to moderates, The Hill reports, the new version of the AHCA includes $70 billion in funding to help sick people enrolled in ACA plans manage costs, and it adds $70 billion to the $112 billion already earmarked for premium reduction. However, the tax credits offered under the ACA to offset premium costs have been further reduced.
But, although the GOP plans to schedule a Senate vote on the new version of the bill for next week—before the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will have a chance to “score” it—we still may be no closer to an endgame. As reported in The Washington Post, “centrist” Republican senators Bill Cassidy (of Louisiana) and Lindsey Graham (of South Carolina) introduced their own plan—live on CNN—minutes before Senator McConnell’s press conference. The essence of the Cassidy/Graham proposal is passing the billions of dollars in tax revenue the federal government receives under the ACA back to the states, to help them offset increased healthcare costs.
The competing bills have likely thrown a monkey-wrench into the already-contentious deliberations, even before legislators—and the public—have had a chance to read the latest draft bills.

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