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CBO: 22 million more uninsured under Senate health bill

Mitch McConnell is pictured.

With Democrats solidly lined up against the repeal bill, Republican leaders can only afford to lose support from two of their members. | AP Photo

By Adam Cancryn

06/26/2017 04:24 PM EDT

Updated 06/26/2017 05:05 PM EDT

2017-06-26T05:05-0400

Senate Republicans’ health care bill would leave 22 million more Americans uninsured over a decade, according to a new Congressional Budget Office projection that could complicate the party’s push to hold a vote on the plan this week.

The estimated coverage losses are just slightly lower than the House-passed version of the Obamacare repeal bill, which may alarm Republican moderates who have pushed Senate leaders to craft a more generous bill.

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The Senate legislation would also cut the federal deficit by $321 billion over 10 years, driven by deep cuts to Medicaid and skimpier aid for people purchasing private coverage on their own. Those savings far exceed the $119 billion target set by the House bill, meeting a key requirement for Republicans hoping to pass the Senate bill through a fast-track budget process needing just 51 votes.

That also gives Republican leaders much-needed financial room to add resources aimed at winning over skeptical GOP senators, including those worried that the bill would too deeply cut Medicaid or weaken the response to the nationwide opioid epidemic. But adding spending to the bill could alienate the chamber’s conservatives, who are pushing for a more aggressive rollback of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

With Democrats solidly lined up against the repeal bill, Republican leaders can only afford to lose support from two of their members. But five GOP senators have pledged to vote against the current draft of the bill since it was released Thursday, and several more are undecided.

Republican leaders, meanwhile, remain committed to hold a vote on their bill dismantling Obamacare in the coming days ahead of the July 4 recess. After suggesting over the weekend that the vote could be pushed off several weeks, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn on Monday said Republicans “need” to pass the bill this week and could take their first procedural vote toward repeal as early as Tuesday.

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The CBO score could make that already tight timeline even more difficult to hit without another round of changes to the bill. The nonpartisan scorekeeping office projected an earlier House-passed repeal plan would leave 23 million more uninsured, fueling backlash to a bill that President Donald Trump called “mean” after weeks of criticism. Yet, the Senate’s own plan is now projected to leave nearly the same number without coverage.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a moderate swing vote, said last week she can’t support anything that would cost “tens of millions” of people their health care. Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, the most vulnerable incumbent up for reelection next year, condemned

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Supreme Court allows Trump's travel ban to take partial effect

The Supreme Court is pictured. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty

The high court’s action means parts of the order President Donald Trump re-issued in March will likely go into effect until the court decides on the legality of the measure. | Getty

Foreigners with 'credible' ties to U.S. will be immune from visa and refugee bans, for now.

By Josh Gerstein

06/26/2017 10:41 AM EDT

Updated 06/26/2017 01:04 PM EDT

2017-06-26T01:04-0400

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to let portions of President Donald Trump's travel ban executive order take effect, a partial victory for the White House that could come as a relief after a string of lower court defeats.

The court will hear arguments on the ban — which denied visas to citizens of six majority Muslim countries and paused admission of refugees from across the globe — and in the meantime, the justices limited the directive's impact on foreigners with clear ties to individuals, businesses or organizations in the United States.

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The high court's action Monday means parts of the order Trump re-issued in March will go into effect until the justices decide on the legality of the measure. The justices called for arguments on the travel ban during the court's first session in October.

Trump quickly claimed victory because the Supreme Court order appears to recognize the president's broad authority to limit travel to the United States by those with no direct ties here.

"Today's unanimous Supreme Court decision is a clear victory for our national security. It allows the travel suspension for the six terror-prone countries and the refugee suspension to become largely effective," the president said in a statement.

However, travel ban opponents noted that many visa applicants have U.S. ties, and State Department officials will have to process and grant requests for visas for those travelers just as they do now, after lower court injunctions hindered Trump's order.

Immigrant advocates said few people in the six countries affected by the visa ban seek to enter the United States purely for tourism, with no relationship with some American person or entity. But the order could be tougher on refugees, who are less likely to have connections to the United States.

"As you can imagine, they're not giving a lot of tourism visas to Yemeni and Somali nationals to begin with," said Becca Heller of the International Refugee Assistance Project.

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Trump billed his travel ban, which was re-written to make it easier to defend than an initial, more sweeping version in January, as a common-sense precaution against terrorism. But critics contend it’s a thinly-veiled version of the “Muslim ban” Trump promoted during his campaign for the White House.

The Supreme Court's unsigned order issued Monday noted the court rulings reaching that conclusion but expressed no view on it.

Three justices — Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch —

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Senate GOP revises health bill in hunt for votes

Mitch McConnell is pictured. | AP Photo

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks on to the Senate floor on June 22 following a meeting with Senate Republicans on a health reform bill. | AP Photo

Republicans are tweaking their plan to repeal Obamacare to try to curb dissent in the party.

By Burgess Everett and Jennifer Haberkorn

06/26/2017 08:29 AM EDT

Updated 06/26/2017 01:45 PM EDT

2017-06-26T01:45-0400

Senate Republicans released a revised version of their bill to repeal Obamacare Monday and are preparing further changes to overcome deep opposition in the party toward last week's initial effort, according to people familiar with the matter.

The updated text is intended to promote continuous health coverage, which was left out of the discussion draft released Thursday and is designed to encourage people to buy insurance ahead of an emergency.

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The Republican leadership and its allies are working furiously to tamp down criticism of the legislation and a voting timetable that will provide perhaps just a couple a days for senators to review the final product.

In a pointed exchange with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Monday, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said the bill does "nothing adequate to bring down the premiums" and said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) should allow more time before a vote. Hewitt responded: "That’s why you got reelected, to pass this bill this week. It’s a disaster not to do so."

“You don’t have to do it this week. I just completely disagree ... I see what leadership’s trying to do. They’re trying to jam this thing through," Johnson said.

Pressed on how he will vote if forced to do so this week, Johnson said he prefers not to kill the bill: “I’ve not said I’m a no. But I'm not a yes yet."

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Despite the complaints, Republicans are still expecting a vote this week as McConnell aims to reach a conclusion before the July 4 recess.

After previously leaving the door open to a vote next month, party whip John Cornyn of Texas said on Twitter that "we need to do it this week before double digit premium increases are announced for next year."

Most people in the party's leadership believe that letting the bill hang out over a recess will result in more "no" votes and hurt the GOP's momentum.

President Donald Trump suggested that the party could let insurance markets collapse if the bill fails this week.

"Republican Senators are working very hard to get there, with no help from the Democrats. Not easy! Perhaps just let OCare crash & burn!" Trump said in a tweet.

Adding to the GOP's problems, the American Medical Association — the nation's largest trade group of physicians — announced its opposition to the Republican bill Monday because it would violate medicine's standard to "first,

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Senate GOP scrambles to revise Obamacare repeal bill

Mitch McConnell is pictured. | AP Photo

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks on to the Senate floor on June 22 following a meeting with Senate Republicans on a health reform bill. | AP Photo

Senate Republicans are expected to release a revised version of their bill to repeal Obamacare as early as Monday aimed at quelling growing dissent in the party over last week's initial effort, according to people familiar with the matter.

The changes to the bill will address continuous coverage, which was left out of the discussion draft released Thursday. The policy is designed to encourage people to buy insurance ahead of an emergency.

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The Senate bill is expected to include a six-month "lock out" period in which people who don't have insurance have to wait a certain amount of time before their policy takes effect. The House bill would have allowed insurance companies to charge uninsured people up to 30 percent more for up to one year.

The Republican leadership and its allies are working furiously to tamp down criticism of the legislation and a voting timetable that will provide perhaps just a couple a days for senators to review the final product.

In a pointed exchange with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Monday, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said the bill does "nothing adequate to bring down the premiums" and said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) should allow more time before a vote. Hewitt responded: "That’s why you got reelected, to pass this bill this week. It’s a disaster not to do so."

“You don’t have to do it this week. I just completely disagree ... I see what leadership’s trying to do. They’re trying to jam this thing through," Johnson said.

Pressed on how he will vote if forced to do so this week, Johnson said he prefers not to kill the bill: “I’ve not said I’m a no. But I'm not a yes yet."

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Despite the complaints, Republicans are still expecting a vote this week as McConnell aims to reach a conclusion before the July 4 recess.

After previously leaving the door open to a vote next month, party whip John Cornyn of Texas said on Twitter that "we need to do it this week before double digit premium increases are announced for next year."

Most people in the party's leadership believe that letting the bill hang out over a recess will result in more "no" votes and hurt the GOP's momentum.

President Donald Trump also suggested that the party could let insurance markets collapse if the bill fails this week.

"Republican Senators are working very hard to get there, with no help from the Democrats. Not easy! Perhaps just let OCare crash & burn!" Trump said in a tweet.

A number of Republican senators have balked at the

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CBO score sure to add to McConnell’s headaches

Mitch McConnell is pictured. | AP Photo

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can lose only two of his 52 members for the bill to pass when he holds a vote in a week. | AP Photo

The budget office is poised to tell Senate Republicans their health bill will leave millions more uninsured than Obamacare.

By Adam Cancryn and Dan Diamond

06/26/2017 05:26 AM EDT

The CBO is poised to tell Senate Republicans this week that their health plan will leave millions more uninsured than Obamacare — with the losses estimated from 15 million to 22 million over a decade, according to a half dozen budget analysts polled by POLITICO.

"What I can say with confidence is that the Senate bill will lead to very large coverage losses," predicted Matt Fiedler of the Brookings Institution, which had previewed the CBO score of the House bill in March but declined to do so for the Senate. "The only question is how large."

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And that could complicate GOP leaders' attempts to corral wavering moderates as they race to lock down votes ahead of a possible vote by week’s end to give President Donald Trump his first legislative victory.

Still-uncommitted moderates like Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), will face increasing pressure to oppose the bill. All hail from states that have expanded Medicaid, where hundreds of thousands of newly covered Americans may lose coverage.

Some senators have already staked out opposition to significant declines in coverage. "I cannot support a bill that's going to result in tens of millions of people losing their health insurance," Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said on Thursday.

Senate Republicans can only afford to lose two votes to pass their bill through the budget reconciliation process on a party-line vote.

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The CBO score of the House bill — which was released 10 days before an initially planned floor vote and projected a coverage decline of 24 million people — was a factor in House Speaker Paul Ryan's decision to cancel the vote in late March, as many moderates said they couldn't vote for the legislation as written and needed more time to review it. Ryan Costello (R-Pa.), who voted for the bill in committee, was among the handful of House Republicans who ended up deciding to vote against the bill after the CBO score.

But nearly all House members ended up backing the final bill without waiting for an updated score. Several weeks later, the budget analysts found a coverage decline of 23 million over a decade for that plan.

The CBO score of the Senate bill, expected as early as Monday, is a near-certainty to project major declines in coverage because of the bill's significant funding cuts to Medicaid, budget experts said.

Given the bill's myriad waiver possibilities and the time crunch, some organizations said they aren't

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