A last-gasp attempt to repeal Obamacare aims to distribute $1.2 trillion to states, according to a revised version of a bill being touted by a trio of Republican senators.
The bill, expected to be released this week, would provide the money for Obamacare's Medicaid expansion and tax credits to states in an attempt to get the states to craft their own healthcare programs, according to a summary from NBC News. Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Dean Heller of Nevada are co-sponsoring the legislation.
The $1.2 trillion in funding would be distributed to states from 2021 to 2026.
A key goal of the bill is to eventually equalize the payments between states that expanded Medicaid and the 19 states that did not. Under the legislation, each state would receive the same base rate based partially on the number of Medicaid-expansion eligible residents in the state, whether it expanded Medicaid under Obamacare or not. The expansion extends coverage to all adults 18 to 65 who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
The legislation hopes to get to the same base rate for all states by 2026, but until then there could be differences in the amount of money states receive.
"Some states receive less money than they would under the [Affordable Care Act]," the summary said. "But the block grant does not require a state match effectively giving states resources to make up shortfalls."
The proposal to equalize payments could be enticing to politicians from non-expansion states who may be more inclined to support the legislation knowing that they would receive an equal rate.
It is not clear how the bill would affect insurance coverage as the senators are still waiting for a score from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
The score is also necessary for Republicans to consider the bill in the Senate through reconciliation, which lets a bill pass with only 51 votes and avoid a filibuster.
The Senate has until the end of the month to pass Obamacare repeal through reconciliation because the budget resolution that set up the reconciliation process expires. Congress would have to approve a new budget resolution to try again.
Cassidy previously told reporters that it would take two to three weeks to get a score.
A CBO score isn't just needed for procedural reasons, but also political.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the second-ranking GOP senator, told reporters Monday that he doesn't know how much support the bill has without a CBO score.
"I don't know on what basis could you determine whether you would support it since it hadn't been written or scored," he said. "We need to keep working. I think we need a score and that will tell people a lot."
Cornyn said that he would "gladly support" the bill "over the status quo."'
Other senators were skeptical that the bill could be passed by the end of the month. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said he would support it because "without us passing something, Obamacare remains the law of the land."
But Johnson didn't mince words when he said that the Senate has a tight window.
"It would be threading the needle, there is no doubt about it," he said.
• Al Weaver contributed to this report.