Senate Republicans on Thursday released a draft version of their bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act that, like the American Health Care Act passed in the House last May, would repeal most of the taxes created by the 2010 law.
The bill, referred to as the Better Care Reconciliation Act, proposes to rework the Affordable Care Act by eliminating the individual insurance mandate, phasing out Medicaid expansion beginning in 2021 and capping Medicaid spending. While the bill leaves in place subsidies to help pay for insurance, it would narrow eligibility for them to 350% of the federal poverty level instead of the current 400%.
Notably, the bill offers significantly less funding to address the ongoing opioid epidemic than the House version of the bill, down to just $2 billion in 2018 from the $45 billion over the next decade provided in the House bill.
The bill would also repeal a long list of taxes under the Affordable Care Act, including the 2.3% medical device excise tax and an annual fee imposed on manufacturers and importers of branded prescription drugs.
Currently, the medical device tax is suspended through the end of this year, but under either the House or Senate bills it would be permanently repealed before the moratorium on the tax ends.
Device makers have long pushed for the tax to be repealed, which the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) says has led to declining job figures in the medical device industry and higher costs to consumers.
However, it's unclear whether the bill will get enough support to pass the Senate. Already four conservative Republicans, Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) say they "are not ready" to vote for the bill.
Because no Democrats are expected to support the bill, Republicans can only afford to lose two votes on their side in order for it to pass a vote with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a tie.