Jun 30 2017
09:54 am
By: michael kaplan  shortURL

Dear Michael,

Thanks very much for getting in touch with me regarding health care reform and efforts to rebuild our nation’s health care system to ensure that Americans have more choices of quality, affordable health plans that meet their families' needs and budgets. These suggestions help me know what priorities I need to focus on, and those that will help Tennesseans.

On June 22, 2017, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a Senate bill that would make important changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This draft of the Senate health care bill makes no change in the law protecting people with pre-existing conditions, no change in Medicare benefits, and increases Medicaid funding— that’s TennCare—at the rate of inflation. Let me repeat that: This draft of the Senate health care bill makes no change in the law protecting people with pre-existing conditions, no change in Medicare benefits, and increases Medicaid funding— that’s TennCare—at the rate of inflation.

Here are some of the benefits for Tennesseans I see in this draft:

• Offers health care coverage to 162,000 Tennesseans who make less than $12,000 a year, and under the current law, receive zero help buying insurance.
• Means the 350,000 Tennesseans who buy their insurance in the individual market – these are Tennesseans who don’t get their insurance on the job or who don’t get it from the government – are more likely to be able to buy insurance next year instead of being in the collapsing Obamacare exchanges where there may be only one option – or even zero options – to buy insurance.
• Repeals the health insurance tax, which drives up the cost of premiums.
• Gives the state more flexibility and continues federal cost-sharing, which our state insurance commissioner said will help bring down the cost of premiums.
• Slows down sky-rocketing premiums, which in Tennessee have gone up 176 percent over four years.
• Repeals the medical device tax on one of our state’s largest exports.
• Repeals the employer mandate penalty, which should mean that employers should be able to offer employees more choices of insurance at a lower-cost—and about 60 percent of us get our insurance on the job.
• Ends the tax on individuals who choose not to buy insurance.
• Provides more money for hospitals that serve low-income Tennesseans who don’t have insurance.
• Provides new funding for opioid abuse, and opioid abuse is a rampant epidemic in our state.
• Provides new Medicaid funding for mental health to double the number of days of in-patient treatment.

I’m going to continue to review this draft and see what it costs when the Congressional Budget Office gives its report. Then, I’m going to stay focused on it as the bill goes to the Senate floor – where it will be subject to virtually unlimited amendments – and my focus will be on how it affects Tennesseans.

I appreciate you getting in touch with me and letting me know what’s on your mind. I’ll be sure to keep your comments in mind as health care reform is discussed and debated in Washington and in Tennessee.


B Harmon's picture

Mark's column in KNS yesterday

Mike Knapp's picture

Lamar and McConnell are so proud of their legislation

they held multiple open committee hearings with their Senate colleagues in DC as well as in-district to explain it to their constituents. They're so proud they scheduled a vote right before July 4th break. They're so proud of their competency that 13 men wrote it without the help of women in an ad-hoc committee instead of the HELP committee. They're so proud they're now for the reconciliation process instead of against it.

knox trumpcare.jpg
KFF interactive map showing Lamar's rip-off

Kaiser Family Foundation - Compare Proposals to Replace The Affordable Care Act

They're talking partial repeal. It looks like this.

CBO Analysis June 26, 2017 Congressional Budget Office and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have completed an estimate of the direct spending and revenue effects of the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017

Matthew Yglesias at Vox The 3 leading conservative cases for the Senate health bill, explained It’s about taxes, mostly.

Essentially every tax cut featured in the bill is regressive in its impact, with much of the tax cutting dedicating to expanding HSA and FSA tax shelters that are primarily valuable to affluent families. But what truly tips the scale is the inclusion of two tax cuts that exclusively help families with more than $200,000 in income per year. As this chart from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows, these two tax cuts combine to provide a massive dose of inequality.

Sarah Kliff at Vox The Senate bill does nothing to fix America's biggest health care problem

Andy Axel's picture

Congratulations, Senator:

You're the Senate's biggest liar.

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