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Rift Over Health Care

Although the controversy surrounding Donald Trump Jr.’s campaign meeting has overshadowed much other news, the debacle to implement new health care legislation still looms on.

Next week, republican senators plan to vote on a new revision to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. When GOP house representatives presented a new health care bill, the party’s senators were united in not allowing it to pass through their chamber. However, GOP senators can’t seem to fully agree on their revised bill before it goes before the floor.

For over seven years, Republicans in Congress have had every opportunity to come to the table and haggle out a health care plan that could provide better coverage for Americans than what was offered by the ACA, fine-tweaking every last detail. Yet now, with a republican administration and a republican-led congress, there is still much discrepancy as to what health care coverage is suitable for Americans.

The revised bill is said to cut an estimated $772 billion from Medicaid over a decade, allowing states to opt out of the program’s expansion originally placed in by the ACA. Certain taxes would also be kept in place for  high-income earners. The Congressional Budget Office expects some 15 million individuals to lose Medicaid coverage within a decade.

PBS NewsHour had shown a news piece earlier this week of those in a West Virginia town who have subsequently been helped by Medicaid expansion. People who had been drug addicts or who currently suffer from illnesses such as diabetes, attested to the burden lifted by having Medicaid coverage. This of course, is just a subset of Americans who represent others across the country who rely on Medicaid and would not be able to pay their medical expenses otherwise.

This should perhaps give GOP incumbents a caveat into what the midterm elections could mean in the coming year. One such incumbent, Republican senator Dean Heller, finds himself between a rock and a hard place. In Nevada, Heller represents a state that overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton during the election and that accepted the Medicaid expansion. By siding with his party on next week’s vote, he could be potentially committing political suicide. While he has not given a definitive answer, his vote could decide whether the bill passes.

Two Republican senators have flat out rejected the bill: Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine. Republicans need at least 50 votes to pass the bill through the senate chamber, and as it stands, they can’t afford to lose another vote. With Paul and Collins siding with democrats, Vice President Pence would be the vote to break the tie and tip the vote over in republicans favor, 51-50.

As advised by Governor John Kasich, GOP leaders may want to put aside partisan agendas and come to the table with democrats to present a much better proposal. Then again, easier said than done.

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