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Senate Republicans Unveil Modified Health Care Bill

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Senate Republican leaders on Thursday released a modified version of their health care bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, but the changes may not be enough to win over both conservatives and moderates who were opposed to the original plan. 

The measure includes Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's proposal to allow insurers to sell less expensive bare-bones plans alongside plans that comply with stricter Obamacare standards. This seems likely to attract conservative support, while driving away moderates. The skinny plans

As CBS News reported Wednesday, the new measure includes several tax increases from Obamacare that were eliminated in the original bill. They are:

  • 3.8 percent tax on net investment income for individuals earning more than $200,000 and families earning more than $250,000
  • 0.9 percent Medicare tax on the same income thresholds
  • Remuneration tax on highly-compensated employees, like health insurance CEOs

A cost estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is expected to be released early next week. The score could be a key factor in determining the fate of the bill. CBO's score of the original plan projected that 22 million more people would without health insurance over the next decade.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, said Wednesday that he will not support the revised plan because he said it's not a full repeal Obamacare and instead, keeps many of its taxes and regulations. Paul has advocated splitting the bill into two pieces in which the Senate would first pass a repeal measure and then replace the health care law at a later date.

If three senators oppose the motion to proceed, it would kill the bill. Republicans need 51 votes to pass the legislation in the Senate, and one vote can be Vice President Mike Pence's tie-breaking vote. And assuming all Democrats vote against it, Republicans can only afford two defections. The Senate currently has 52 Republicans and 48 Democrats.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, expressed concern Tuesday at the thought of his own colleagues voting against a procedural motion to open debate on the bill: "I just can't imagine not voting to proceed to a bill when you have an open amendment process," he told reporters.

If Senate Republicans are unable to pass the new version, it would be their second failed attempt to in recent weeks to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, had no choice but to postpone a vote on health care before the July 4 recess because leadership lacked the votes to pass the original legislation.

McConnell announced earlier this week that the Senate will stay in session through the first two weeks of August, instead of heading home at the end of July, in order to tackle his party's unfinished agenda.

In an interview recorded Wednesday with Christian Broadcasting Network's Pat Robertson, President Trump warned that he will be "very angry" if Senate Republicans fail to pass legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare.

"I don't even want to talk about it because I think it would be very bad," Mr. Trump said. "I will be very angry about it and a lot of people will be very upset. But I'm sitting waiting for that bill to come to my desk. I hope that they do it. They've been promising it for years. They've been promising it ever since Obamacare, which is failed. It's a failed experiment. It is totally gone. It's out of business and we have to get this done. Repeal and replace."

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