On June 29, Congress adjourned for its July 4th recess after the Senate did not bring its version of health care reform to the floor for a vote, as had been anticipated earlier in the week. The Senate's bill, the "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017" (BCRA) has faced opposition from all sides, including from a number of Republican Senators. With no Democrats supporting the measure, the Republicans can only afford to lose two votes for the measure to pass. As of yesterday, there were at least ten Senators that have expressed explicit or potential disapproval of the measure in its current form, and dozens that have not taken a public position. Late Thursday evening, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) put out a new report looking at an additional ten year time frame beyond its initial report. The new report estimates that Medicaid spending would fall by 35 percent over the next 20 years. Democrats had pushed for the CBO to include forecasts for an additional ten years because many of the deepest cuts in the BCRA would not take place until several years after implementation. The CBO estimates that in the first ten years, Medicaid spending would be reduced by $772 billion, and approximately 22 million people that now have health coverage would no longer have coverage.
With political stakes high to move to a vote and pass health care reform, several concessions were put forth to attempt to move Republicans who oppose the bill in its current form into the "yes" column. One such concession was an increase in funding to combat the opioid crisis of $45 billion. However, despite the revisions, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) did not have the votes in place to bring the measure to the floor, forcing a delay until after the July 4th recess. Over the recess, which runs from June 30 to July 11, lawmakers will be back in their home states. It is expected that when Congress is back in session on July 12, the Senate will attempt again to move quickly to a vote, followed by the House in order to wrap up health care reform before the August recess.
Many advocacy groups have been staging rallies and demonstrations, including some individuals engaging in civil disobedience leading to arrests, in Senators' DC and in-state offices to protest the health care bill. ANCOR has put out several action alerts asking members to call their Senators and schedule in-state visits with them over the recess. We encourage members to attend public events with their Senators over the recess, and continue to call and visit to engage in constructive advocacy and help Senators understand the devasting impact on people with disabilities the BCRA will have.
For the latest information and action alerts, make sure to check your email, keep an eye on the ACC for any breaking news, and visit www.disabilitysos.org.