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Senate health bill expected Thur., McConnell says; could stretch Medicaid expansion but then cut program more than House bill

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By Al Cross and Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Senate Republicans plan to make their repeal-and-replace-Obamacare bill public on Thursday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told reporters Tuesday.

The bill is likely to continue the Medicaid expansion, which serves 470,000 Kentuckians, longer than the bill passed by the House, but could make deeper cuts to Medicaid in the long run.

McConnell's announcement indicated that the bill is being analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office, which would clear it for debate, votes and perhaps passage on the Senate floor next week, meeting McConnell's goal of action before the July 4 week recess that begins Friday, June 28.

"I expect to have a discussion draft on Thursday, and we will go to the bill once we get a CBO score, probably next week," McConnell told reporters. Asked how long the Senate will have to review the bill, McConnell said "plenty of time."

On the floor Monday, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer o…

Post's chief fact-checker gives McConnell an upside-down Pinocchio for a flip-flop the senator won't acknowledge

"It has become a regular feature of the U.S. political system that the politicians in the minority accuse the politicians in power of cutting deals behind closed doors to advance controversial legislation — only to engage in similar tactics once they regain power," writes Glenn Kessler, who runs The Fact Checker column for The Washington Post.

And so it goes with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans' health bill, says Kessler as he compares McConnell's recent remarks with those he made in 2009 and 2010 as Democrats were passing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Kessler, a Cincinnati native, normally gives politicians one to four Pinocchios, depending on how far they stray from the truth; in this case, he gives the Kentuckian one upside-down Pinocchio "for statements that represent a clear but unacknowledged 'flip-flop' from a previously-held position." Here's a video version:

Study says health bill passed by the House would cost Kentucky 16,500 jobs in the next decade

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By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

A study says that if Congress and President Trump were to enact into law the health bill passed by the House, the nation would lose nearly 1 million jobs, 16,500 of them in Kentucky, in the next decade.

The study is from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and The Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based research foundation.

Their analysis of the American Health Care Act predicts it would initially increase the number of jobs and improve the economy because of the tax cuts that go into effect immediately, but those gains would soon be lost. “Cuts in funding for Medicaid and health subsidies then begin to deepen, triggering sharp job losses and broad disruption of state economies in the following years,” Leighton Ku, director of the Center for Health Policy Research at GWU and lead author of the report, said in a news release. “The downturn would hit the health-care sector and states that e…

Some Republican senators, including Rand Paul, don't like Mitch McConnell's strategy of drafting health bill in secret

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Kentucky Health News

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continues to catch heat from Democrats, and dissatisfaction from some Republicans, about Senate Republicans' secret drafting of a repeal-and-replace-Obamacare bill that he wants passed by June 30.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York told the Kentuckian in a letter that they should convene a meeting of all 100 senators "on the topic of health care," which "affects every single American and one-sixth of our economy. We believe we all owe it to our constituents to pursue any bipartisan potential legislation because it profoundly impacts so many American lives."

Schumer told reporters, “They’re ashamed of the bill. If they liked the bill, they’d have brass bands marching down the middle of small-town America saying what a great bill it is. But they know it isn’t.”

McConnell spokesman David Popp "argued that the letter suggests Democrats are now open to the 'repeal' component of the …

McConnell defends private drafting of health bill; Paul opposes his plan to delay end of Medicaid expansion from 2020 to 2023

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky defended Senate Republicans' secret drafting of a new health-care law Tuesday, saying committee hearings that Democrats demand aren't needed.

"Look, we've been dealing with this issue for seven years. It's not a new thing. We've spent a lot of time on it," McConnell told reporters. "Nobody's hiding the ball here. You're free to ask anyone anything. But there have been gazillions of hearings on this subject when [Democrats] were in the majority, when we were in the majority. We understand the issue very well and we are now coming up with a solution."

Democrats continued their criticism. Michael McAuliff of Huffington Postreports, "Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) noted that McConnell had once been a strong advocate for transparency when Democrats passed Obamare after more than a year of hearings and 25 hours of debate on the Senate floor. Bennet quoted McConnell saying then: 'Above all, he s…

Haunted by US Healthcare Inc - $27.9 Million/Year Aetna CEO Threatened Obamacare Pullback in Apparent Retaliation for Government Anti-Trust Litigation

We do not write about health insurance and managed care as much as we used to.  Dysfunction in this area now gets much media attention.  US Physicians frequently complain that bureaucratic impediments imposed on them by health insurance and the government  are major causes of health care dysfunction. 

However, managed care was at the sharp edge of the movement to change the focus of health care from individual patients cared for by individual professionals and at local hospitals, to an (unregulated) business dominated by huge corporate entities.  The wedge with that sharp edge has now driven very deep.  So it may be instructive to look at what is going on now.

The Proposed Aetna-Humana Merger

In 2015, the big news in the US health insurance sphere were big mergers.  One example was the proposed merger between Aetna and Humana.  An Aetna press release trumpeted that the

Combined Entity ... [would] Drive Consumer-Focused, High-Value Health Care
That it would have the

Ability to Lead…