BCRA support falters: GOP governors, insurers and public oppose bill
Wednesday, July 05, 2017
Backing for the Better Care and Reconciliation Act (BCRA), Senate Republicans' version to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, is faltering. In one sign of party disunity, President Donald Trump recently tweeted a "repeal then replace" Obamacare message that Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) quickly dismissed.
Senators were initially planning to vote on the bill last week, but McConnell announced the vote would be delayed until after the July 4 holiday as negotiations continued.
Meanwhile, an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll of 1,200 adult Americans in late June found that 17 percent of respondents approve of the BCRA. Further, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll in late June found sour attitudes toward Trump's signature campaign vow to upend Obamacare.
"A majority of Americans say they have an unfavorable view of the plan (55 percent) while three in ten have a favorable view," according to the KFF poll. "In the past month, support for the replacement plan has decreased among Republicans (from 67 percent in May to 56 percent currently) and among supporters of President Trump (from 69 percent to 55 percent)."
While every Democratic Party senator opposes the BCRA, dissent from GOP statehouses is developing.
In a letter to McConnell and Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, (D-N.Y.) about the BCRA, New Hampshire's Republican Gov. Chris S. Sununu publicly announced his opposition to the healthcare measure.
"Taken as a whole, we believe that the changes proposed in the BCRA will lead to cuts in eligibility, loss of coverage, or significant increases in state taxes," Sununu said. "New Hampshire is proud of its tradition of not having an income tax or sales tax and remains vigilant against down-shifting of costs onto states that become general fund liabilities."
GOP governors joining Sununu to oppose the current version of the BCRA include Ohio's John Kasich, Massachusetts' Charlie Baker, Vermont's Phil Scott and Nevada's Brian Sandoval.
America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) is analyzing the evolving changes in the BCRA, according to Kristine Grow, vice president of communications. AHIP is a national trade group that advocates politically for 1,300 member firms that sell health insurance coverage to over 200 million Americans.
In a letter to Sen. Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Marilyn B. Tavenner, AHIP's president and CEO, urged caution in ACA reform: "Medicaid funding must be adequate to meet the healthcare and service needs of beneficiaries and provide actuarially sound resources to state Medicaid programs and Medicaid health plans."
The California Association of Health Plans, which represents 49 full-service healthcare plans providing coverage to over 25 million Californians, declined a request for comment on the BCRA, referring a reporter to AHIP.
Paul Markovich, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California, a CAHP member, came out against the BCRA.
"Under the Affordable Care Act, 5 million Californians have obtained meaningful, and potentially life-saving, access to health care — many for the first time," Markovich said. "This bill would put coverage out of reach or even take coverage away from far too many of them."
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's score of the BCRA said it would cause 22 million Americans to lose their Medicaid coverage by 2026, while reducing the federal deficit by $321 billion during the same time period. A future CBO score of a revised BCRA could change that number of uninsured Americans.
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