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FEDERAL | Senate Releases Health Care Reform Draft

Following narrow passage by the House of Representatives of the deeply-flawed American Health Care Act (AHCA), the U.S. Senate released the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), which repeals and replaces parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated that the bill, which closely mirrors the House legislation, is a discussion draft and that leadership is open to amendments. The bill repeals the ACA's individual insurance mandate, which is largely unpopular among the majority party's base. It also proposes steeper cuts to Medicaid than the House legislation and repeals several of the ACA's taxes. However, the bill has more generous subsidies to assist Americans in purchasing individual insurance coverage than the House plan, although less generous than the ACA.

The BCRA has a hard path to passage as the GOP struggles to obtain the fifty-one votes necessary to pass the bill. Even so, leadership is pushing to hold a vote prior to the July 4th recess. Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Rob Portman (R-OH) have expressed serious concerns over the legislation's impact on those Americans enrolled in Medicaid, as both states have expanded Medicaid under the ACA. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who believes the Senate proposal has been rushed, complained that senators do not have enough time to properly review the legislation. This sentiment was echoed by Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Mike Lee (R-UT). The party is also split over a provision that would eliminate a large portion of federal funding for Planned Parenthood. The Senate draft will be scored by the Congressional Budget Office in the coming days and will be available to members of the Senate prior to the chamber's vote. Similar to the House bill, early analysis predicts that millions of Americans will lose health insurance under the Senate proposal.

In advance of the BCRA release, ASPS wrote to Senate leaders, as well as the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee to ensure that the priorities of plastic surgery were considered throughout the drafting process. ASPS will continue to engage key stakeholders and ensure that the interests of plastic surgeons and their patients are voiced as Congress continues to address health care reform.

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