Top Republicans in the U.S. Senate have been talking for weeks about a bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. But because those talks have been happening behind closed doors, criticisms that they were negotiating a "secret" health care bill have been getting louder.
Well, the secret's out now.
– Americans would not be required to have health insurance. Companies would not have to offer it to workers, either.
– Government subsidies to help people buy insurance would be cut back. That's especially true of Medicaid.
– Lots of the taxes that pay for those subsidies would go away. Many of those taxes are aimed at the wealthiest Americans.
– For one year, no federal money would go to Planned Parenthood. No one insured by Medicaid could use their services in that year.
Will the bill pass?
Right now it looks like it does not have enough votes. Rank-and-file Senate Republicans were not in on the negotiations, so most of them were seeing the bill for the first time on Thursday.
Wisconsin's Ron Johnson was one of four Republicans who put out a joint statement saying they would not vote for it right now, but they're willing to negotiate.
Two other Republican senators – Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins – said this week they would not support defunding Planned Parenthood.
If more than two Republicans vote against the bill it won't pass (assuming all the Democrats vote against it, which looks likely).
Reaction from Minnesotans
Minnesota's senators are both Democrats. Al Franken put out a statement right away calling the Republican plan a disaster. Here's a sampling:
This is nothing more than a thinly disguised attempt to gift billions of dollars in tax breaks to the very richest few Americans by dismantling our health care system, fundamentally destroying Medicaid as we know it, and making life harder and more expensive for millions and millions of Americans.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar did not issue a statment on the bill right away. But, like Franken, she's been critical of the closed-door process that produced it.
There's no timeline yet for a vote on the Senate bill. The House passed their own health care plan last month. So if the Senate bill does get approved, a committee would have to work out the differences between the bills.