POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Vote on controversial Senate GOP health care bill delayed

BY Briana Vannozzi, Correspondent |

The report revealed what many Democrats feared. The Senate GOP bill to replace Obamacare will cause premiums to go up and the number of uninsured Americans to surge.

“They estimate about a 22 million increase nationally, and in New Jersey we estimate that means about a half a million New Jerseyans will become uninsured as a result of this legislation,” said Ray Castro, director of health policy for New Jersey Policy Perspective.

The nonpartisan budget crunchers with the Congressional Budget Office released their estimate as support for the bill remains in limbo.

“We’re going to continue the discussions within our conference on the differences that we have that we’re continuing to try and litigate. Consequently, we will not be on the bill this week, but we’re still working toward getting at least 50 people in a comfortable place,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In New Jersey most of that coverage loss would happen within just a few years, according to the left-leaning think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective. Castro says it’s the casualty of Medicaid cuts.

“In the Senate they reduced funding immediately, so starting in 2021 we would probably have to end the Medicaid expansion in our state. That’s 560,000 New Jerseyans. Ten percent of all adults in our state would lose health coverage and that would just be catastrophic,” Castro said.

“It’s no exaggeration, therefore, to say Republicans put this country on a crash course that will endanger American lives and will threaten the financial security of millions upon millions of families. If President Trump thought the House bill was mean, well this Senate bill is downright nasty,” Sen. Bob Menendez.

Democrats gathered on the hill denouncing the plan. Though the uninsured number is slightly lower than that of the House bill passed last month, it could double by 2026.

“Under the Republican health plan New Jersey will lose at least $30 billion in Medicaid funding over the next decade, and the $2 billion they set aside, as Sen. Markey said, to fight the national opioid crisis next year is an insult to every community battling this epidemic,” said Menendez.

That’s been an issue near and dear to Gov. Christie’s heart. He hasn’t been shy about his reservations, but wasn’t offering much of an alternative today.

“I’ve expressed my opinion as a governor that I am concerned about proposed Medicaid changes. I’m not going to go down to Capitol Hill and pour gasoline on myself and light myself on fire. I have lots of friends and contacts down there, I’ve expressed myself,” Christie said.

About two-thirds of New Jersey Medicaid funds are used for seniors and people with disabilities, putting services in nursing homes and community care in jeopardy.

President Trump invited Republican senators to the White House late this afternoon to regroup. The delay doesn’t kill the vote, though it could open the door for more pressure from constituents as negotiations are hammered out.