Speed Reads

health care

McConnell's strategy to sell moderates on cutting Medicaid? Telling them it won't actually happen.

With the threat of President Trump's ire hanging over the heads of Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is desperately attempting to rustle up enough votes to pass a revised version of the GOP's health-care bill. To do so, McConnell will need to sell a handful of deeply concerned moderate Republicans on the bill's proposed Medicaid cuts, and The Washington Post reports he is doing so by suggesting the cuts will never actually happen:

Under the current version of the Senate health-care bill, federal Medicaid spending would drop by 26 percent starting in 2026, pegged to the Urban Consumer Price Index. That's still eight-and-a-half years away — long past senators' next election. And cutting Medicaid is so unpopular, with so much resistance from the health-care industry, that it's likely Congress would find a way to avoid the cuts when the time comes. After all, that's what Congress did for years by enacting the so-called "Doc Fix" to a Medicare doctors' payment formula. [The Washington Post]

McConnell is "trying to sell the pragmatists like [Ohio Sen. Rob Portman], like [West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito], on 'the CPI-U will never happen,'" a GOP lobbyist added to the Post.

Still, it could take a lot of convincing. In a closed-door meeting Wednesday, centrist Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) put their collective foot down about the ambitious Medicaid cuts, which would snip $772 billion over 10 years and lead to 15 million fewer people enrolled, Politico reports. "The [Affordable Care Act] allowed for Medicaid expansion. The ACA didn't address traditional Medicaid," Murkowski said. "Why do we not focus on the urgency of the concerns with the ACA? Let's deal with the urgency of the issue. Let's set Medicaid off to the side."