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A fifth GOP senator announced his opposition to ObamaCare repeal bill

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UPDATE Friday, June 23, 2017 at June 23, 2017 pm.. EST:

Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) on Friday revealed he opposes the Senate GOP bill for repealing and replacing ObamaCare.

"I'm announcing today that in this form I will not support it," he said during a press conference, according to The Hill.

Heller reportedly voiced reservations about the bill's phaseout of the Medicaid expansion.

UPDATE 2:11 p.m. EST

Four Republican Senators on Thursday said they do not support the draft bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

In a joint statement, Sens. Rand Paul (KY), Ted Cruz (TX), Ron Johnson (WI) and Mike Lee (UT) said they are "not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation."

Republicans can only afford to lose two votes in order to pass the bill.

UPDATE 10:45 a.m. EST: 

The first draft of the Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare was released Thursday.

The 142-page "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017’’ has been kept under wraps for weeks as a group of 13 Senators have been working behind closed doors to draft the companion bill to the House's American Health Care Act. 

Here's a few highlights from the bill as we continue to read through it: 

The Senate bill would not only defund Planned Parenthood, it also restrict federal subsidies for insurance plans that cover abortions, unless the procedure is necessary to save the life of the mother or if the mother became pregnant as a result of rape or incest. 

The bill gets rid of Obamacare's individual and employer insurance mandates and repeals all of the Affordable Care Act's taxes except for the so-called "Cadillac Tax" on high-cost insurance plans. 

The draft bill would phase out Obamacare's Medicaid expansion by 2024, and it reshapes the way the program is funded.

Instead of an open-ended federally funded program, Medicaid spending would be capped at set limits or with block grants.

States can also impose work requirements for people receiving Medicaid, except for the elderly, pregnant women or people with disabilities. 

Federal subsidies to help people afford their insurance would be based on income instead of age, unlike the House plan, but the value of the subsidies is reduced.


Like the House bill, states can apply to waive out of most insurance requirements under the Senate plan and it sunsets the ACA's essential health benefits coverage requirement after December 2019. 

The Senate bill obligates $2 billion in 2018 for grants to be given to states to help fight the opioid crisis. 

Democrats immediately blasted the bill on social media.

But Repubicans said the bill will help Americans who can't afford insurance under the ACA.

Meanwhile, people protesting outside of Mitch McConnell's office were removed by police.

UPDATE June 22, 8:21 a.m. EST:

The Senate's bill to repeal and replace Obamacare would roll back the Affordable Care Act's taxes, repeal its Medicaid expansion over several years, defund Planned Parenthood, modify its subsidies and give states the ability to opt out of insurance regulations, according to the Washington Post, which received a discussion draft of the bill set to be released Thursday. 

The bill would be similar to the American Health Care Act passed by the House, but it does have some differences. 

The House bill offered health care subsidies to consumers based on their age, the Senate's bill would offer income-based subsidies, much like Obamacare. 

The Senate bill would also cut off Obamacare's Medicaid expansion more gradually than the House bill, according to the Post. 

The Senate bill give states more freedom to waive out of Obamacare's insurance regulations, but they will not be able to opt out of protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, the Post reported. 

In a nod to conservatives, the Senate bill will repeal all of Obamacare's taxes except for the "Cadillac tax" on high-cost health plans.


Senate leaders are hoping to bring moderates on board with the more generous-income based subsidies and protections for people with pre-existing conditions, but some moderate senators may be turned off by the bill's deep cuts to Medicaid and Planned Parenthood. 

Senators will be briefed on the bill on Thursday morning before the draft is posted online. 

Lawmakers expect to receive a new score on the bill from the Congressional Budget Office in the coming days, setting up debate and a vote on the bill late next week.

UPDATE June 20, 3:00 p.m. EST:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Tuesday announced Republicans would be able to review a "discussion draft" of new health care reform legislation on Thursday.

He said the legislation would likely hit the floor next week after it is given a new score from the Congressional Budget Office.

When asked how long lawmakers will have to review the bill, McConnell said they would have "plenty of time."

ORIGINAL STORY:  A task force of 13 Senate Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), are cobbling together their version of a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare behind closed doors. 

McConnell has set an ambitious timeline for the bill, aiming to get it to the floor by the July 4 recess. That's just nine legislative days from now. 

Other Republican senators have said they are hopeful that the bill will be finished by then, or at least before the August recess.

A fifth GOP senator announced his opposition to ObamaCare repeal bill

WATCH | While much of the attention on Capitol Hill has been on a series of hearings in the Russia investigation, a group of 13 Senators has been working on a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. They could be very close to a vote, but the problem is, no one else knows what's in the bill. 

"We’re going to have to figure out a way to stabilize the markets, lower premiums, make sure people actually get health care instead of just a lot of insurance costs with no coverage," said Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL).

Republicans know what they want the end result to be, but they haven't said much about how they plan to accomplish it or if they are actually going to have it ready by McConnell's deadline.

In fact, many Republicans outside the 13-member task force say they haven't even seen the bill. 


"I don't think they're close, but some people think they are. Sooner or later the leader has to pull it together. He'll get that done," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), one of the members of the health care task force. 

"It's hard for me to say yes or no because I haven't seen a bill," said Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

The secrecy surrounding the bill has started to worry some Republicans. 

"If it is an effort to rush it from a small group of people straight to the floor on an up or down vote, that would be a problem," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said in a CNN interview on Sunday.

"I think that we do better as a body when we respect the process. And the process allows for committee involvement, debate and discussion," Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) told the Alaska Dispatch News. Murkowski sits on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee but was not included on the healthcare task force.

While Republicans are concerned about the process, Democrats are furious.

"We’ve never seen anything like this," said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

"We need to be able to see this bill, not to decide a month later that it’s mean after it becomes law," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said on MSNBC, referring to a comment President Trump made to Republican Senators last week at the White House. Trump called the House healthcare bill "mean" and said the Senate bill would be kinder.  


Senate Democrats launched an offensive this week to slow down the Republican bill.

On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) sent a letter to Republican leaders with a list of every possible room to hold a formal hearing on the health care bill. 

"If you schedule a hearing, we guarantee all Democratic members of the Senate HELP, Finance or Budget Committee will be in attendance at any time or place that you choose," they wrote. 

#AmericaSpeaksOut on Trumpcare -- Share Your Own Health Care Story

Senate Democrats on Monday also launched a video campaign urging Americans to speak out against the Republican health care plan.

Democrats signaled Monday that they also have plans to use parliamentary procedures to delay the health care bill from coming to the floor, including giving a series of floor speeches debating the bill late in to the night.

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