CHA News Article

U.S. Senate Continues Debate on ACA Repeal Legislation

After clearing a procedural motion yesterday to begin considering legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Senate has been working through 20 hours of debate. When the debate time has elapsed, the chamber will vet amendments through “vote-a-rama,” a process during which senators from both parties can offer an unlimited number of amendments to be voted on without debate.

Last night, the Senate rejected — by a vote of 43 to 57 — a revised version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). The BCRA would phase-out enhanced federal funding for Medicaid expansion, institute capped funding for Medicaid, scale back subsidies that support low-income individuals in gaining coverage, and weaken critical consumer protections that guarantee meaningful access to care.

The legislation also included two amendments — by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rob Portman (R-OH) — intended to woo support from conservative and moderate factions of the Republican conference. Sen. Cruz’s amendment would have allowed insurers that offer ACA-compliant plans to also sell insurance coverage that does not include consumer protections, such as coverage of pre-existing conditions. Sen. Portman’s amendment would provide $100 billion in additional funding to help Medicaid expansion enrollees purchase private insurance.

This afternoon, by a vote of 45 to 55, the Senate rejected legislation that would have repealed the ACA with a two-year delay. The legislation, known as the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act, was an updated version of 2015 legislation that passed both chambers but was vetoed by President Obama.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is assessing the viability of a “skinny repeal” bill that would repeal the individual and employer mandate penalties and some of the ACA’s taxes. If legislation ultimately passes the Senate, it could be considered in an up-or-down vote by the House or sent to a conference committee to work out differences between the final Senate bill and the House-passed American Health Care Act.

CHA continues to emphasize to the California delegation the importance of preserving coverage for all Californians.