Yesterday, Senate Republicans released a newly revised draft of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) in hopes of passing the bill through a divided Congress. Though the bill does not change any of the fundamental aspects of its original version, lawmakers made several significant changes in an effort to sway specific Republican lawmakers on the fence about the legislation.
One of the most notable findings from the new Senate bill was the decision to keep the sharp cuts to Medicaid that were introduced in the previous version of the bill intact. Read below for some of what’s new:
- Selling less comprehensive plans The updated bill includes an amendment proposed by Senator Ted Cruz which would give insurance companies the ability to sell plans that do not meet the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) minimum requirements as long as the insurers offer at least one plan that does meet these requirements.
- New funding for critical areas The new bill proposes additional funding such as $45 billion to combat the growing opioid epidemic and $70 billion in assistance to insurers to help cover the costs of more expensive patients.
- Retaining some of the ACA’s taxes A pair of taxes imposed by the ACA on high-income individuals and couples would be retained in this new legislation to maintain $231 billion of tax revenue over a decade that would have otherwise been cut.
- Limits on tax deductions The Senate bill would also hold onto ACA-era limits on tax deductions that insurers can take for compensation paid to top executives.
Republicans are currently awaiting analysis for the revised BCRA bill from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) as early as next week. The previous version of this bill was estimated to leave 22 million individuals without insurance.
Though the draft bill was released only a day ago, opposition from other lawmakers and industry groups is already mounting. In order for the bill to pass, the bill must get 51 votes and more changes and amendments are imminent. We’ll have updates and analysis as soon as changes occur. Stay tuned for the latest updates for independent practices on healthcare reform and health policy.