What Is The GOP Health Care Plan Called? The Senate Version Has An Entirely New Name
Senate Republicans unveiled their highly-anticipated Obamacare repeal bill on Thursday, and are aiming to hold a vote on the legislation before the end of June. But unlike the House version of the legislation, it's not called the American Health Care Act. In the Senate, the GOP health care plan is called the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA).
Although Republican leadership hasn't explained the new name, it presumably comes from the fact that the GOP plans to use a parliamentary process known as budget reconciliation in order to pass the bill. Under budget reconciliation, or reconciliation for short, a piece of legislation is "filibuster-proof," and only needs 51 votes to pass. The trade-off is that a bill can only be passed through reconciliation if it meets certain stringent requirements, and it's currently unclear whether the Republican bill does so.
The BCRA would reduce financial assistance for low-income Americans purchasing health care, defund Planned Parenthood for one year, phase out Obamacare's Medicaid expansion by 2021, cut other forms of Medicaid spending and implement a number of tax cuts for high-income Americans. The legislation would also allow states to opt-out of Obamacare's Essential Health Requirements, a change that would pave the way for insurers denying comprehensive coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
It's currently unclear whether or not the BCRA will clear the Senate. Republican leadership can only afford to lose two votes on the legislation in order to pass it, assuming that every Senate Democrat votes against it. So far, five Republican Senators have said they can't support the bill in its current form, which in theory is more than enough opposition to doom the BCRA. However, the legislation can be amended before it's put up for a vote, so it's still possible that it will be tweaked enough to gain the support of enough Republicans to pass.
The Congressional Budget Office hasn't yet scored the BCRA, and the Senate won't vote on the bill until it's scored. The CBO did score the House's AHCA, however, which is very similar to the BCRA. The House version would drastically reduce coverage, according to the CBO, with 23 million Americans losing their health insurance by 2026.
President Trump has said that the bill is "very good" but needs "a little negotiation." Former President Obama weighed in on BCRA as well, saying that it's "not a health care bill" and criticizing the "fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation."