September 11, 2017: Republicans are gearing up for one last stab at repealing the Affordable Care Act. They have until September 30th to pass a bill under the reconciliation process. After that, any bill that Democrats oppose will need to pass with 60 votes instead of simple majority.
On September 8th, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Dean Heller (R-NV) promised to introduce a piece of legislation on Monday, September 11, that would give federal funding to states in the form of block grants. These senators have announced that they are in discussions with the Congressional Budget Office and hope to get a scoring of the bill soon. However, Monday night, several Republicans announced that they either did not support the bill or that they did not think the bill would move forward.
In the meantime, Senators from both parties are making progress on bipartisan bill to make minor changes to the ACA. In Senate hearings on September 6th and 7th, Senators questioned insurance commissioners and state governors from both parties about what changes are necessary to stabilize insurance marketplaces. This marks the first day of hearings related to a bipartisan move to make minor tweaks to the ACA. Republicans and Democrats appear to agree that they need to lower premiums and increase competition among insurers. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) believes this approach will result in a bill that would fund cost-sharing reduction payments owed to insurers and make it easier for states to apply for waivers to try new approaches to their healthcare systems.
September 12, 2017: Bernie Sanders has announced that he plans to release his “Medicare for All” single payer bill on September 13th. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) have announced that they will co-sponsor the bill.
However, not all Democrats are on board. On September 12, according to the Washington Post, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that single payer is not a litmus test for Democrats and that she is focused on protecting health-care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
August 15, 2017: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom recently visited the Central Valley for his election campaign. As he spoke to the public, he asserted that he supported the debate over California adopting a single payer healthcare system. He also warned that although he supported “Medicare for all,” he admitted that he did not have a detailed plan.
Throughout June and July, the California Nurses Association continued to lead a series of protests after California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon shelved the Healthy California Act (SB-562) on June 23, 2017. The bill, which was passed by the California Senate in early June, would create a single payer, universal healthcare program for everyone in the state. Assembly Speaker Rendon put the bill on hold for the remainder of the year after acknowledging that there remain many unanswered questions about how the program will work and be funded.
— You can read HRT’s executive summary of the bill here.
— For full text of the bill, you can visit the California Legislative Branch website.
— You can also read about who supports and who disapproves of SB-562 here.