Senate Moves Closer to Vote on ACA Repeal, Medicaid Cuts
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced this week that the Senate will hold a vote on ACA repeal by the end of this month, even though no bill language has yet been introduced or considered by the full Senate. Additionally, the House’s American Health Care Act passed an important procedural hurdle this week, clearing the way for the Senate to pass their own health reform bill with a simple 51 vote majority. These developments elevate the need for more action from National Council advocates to protect Medicaid and behavioral health care.
On Wednesday, the Senate Budget Committee announced that the House-passed ACA repeal bill, the American Health Care Act, complies with Senate reconciliation rules. Importantly, this news means that the Senate can pass a bill with 51 votes, rather than the typical 60-vote threshold. However, using the reconciliation process also means that the Senate’s proposal will be subject to a different set of rules, including the Byrd rule. The Byrd rule requires that all provisions in a reconciliation bill have an impact on the federal budget. As a result, certain provisions of the House-passed bill that are more regulatory in nature, like the waiving of essential health benefits, could be stripped out in the Senate.
Since the House’s passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in May, the Senate has made clear their intent to craft their own health care bill. While a broad outline of the Senate’s health care plan was circulated among Senate Republicans on Tuesday, specific bill language has not yet been made public. The most heavily debated issues in the Senate discussions have focused on Medicaid, including proposals to end the Medicaid expansion and cap federal Medicaid spending. During this critical period of Senate deliberation, it is important for advocates to educate their Senators on the importance of Medicaid to behavioral health populations and urge them to oppose Medicaid restructuring and funding cuts.
Urgent Advocacy Needed
The Senate is expected to vote this month on health care legislation that could eliminate the Medicaid expansion and restructure the Medicaid program. Reach out today to protect Medicaid and behavioral health. Visit our Unite4BH webpage for easy steps on how to write your Senators’ offices directly and for more advocacy resources. Get started today!