Senate Revives Push to Reform Health Care, Dismaying Skilled Nursing Groups

A Republican push to kill Obamacare has seemingly returned from the dead after winning narrow Senate approval during a procedural vote Tuesday afternoon, prompting some industry groups to express frustration and alarm.

The Senate voted 51-50 to begin debating legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, former U.S. President Barack Obama’s legacy healthcare achievement. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote after just two Republicans, Maine’s Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted against proceeding with discussion.

Despite Tuesday’s go-ahead vote, it’s not entirely clear what legislation the Senate will discuss or whether it will even be able to pass the bill ultimately it hammers out. Moderate and conservative Republicans have previously engaged in a tug-of-war over whether previous pushes for healthcare reform did too much or too little.

Earlier versions of the Senate bill contained billions of dollars in promised cuts to Medicaid, prompting some skilled nursing and other long-term care (LTC) providers to sound the alarm. The American Health Care Association (ACHA) predicted that the plan could end up costing individual SNFs $600,000 a year by the 2030s, which is much more than most facilities make in one year.

“We strongly encourage the Senate to protect Medicaid access for seniors and people with disabilities as they consider repealing the Affordable Care Act,” a spokesperson for the ACHA told Skilled Nursing News Tuesday afternoon.

Similarly, LeadingAge, an industry group that represents non-profit care providers around the country, also weighed in on Tuesday’s vote.

“We are deeply disappointed that the Senate has decided to move forward with a measure whose contents are unknown to most senators,” the group said in a statement e-mailed to Skilled Nursing News. “We strongly support a process that encourages public input and transparency. We continue to urge Congress to reject Medicaid per-capita caps, which would be devastating to the millions of Americans who need long-term services and supports.”

The Senate is expected to debate and discuss the bill throughout the coming week.

Written by Tim Regan

Screenshot via CSPAN

Tim Regan

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