Nelson, Collins talk after GOP health bill fails

Update 4 p.m.: What now? Florida’s Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson said he’s begun working with another former insurance commissioner on the other side of the aisle, Susan Collins of Maine. She was one of three GOP no votes.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

“Sen. Collins and I have discussed this issue many times and we are now working together,” Nelson said in a statement. “As former state insurance commissioners, we know how complicated this issue is and we are working with a small bipartisan group of senators equally dedicated to finding real solutions.”

Nelson earlier pitched a plan he says could lower premiums 13 percent, based on discussions with people in the business. A bill he filed would create a reinsurance fund to reimburse insurers 80 percent of claims ranging from $50,000 to $500,000 from 2018 until 2020. After that, the fund would cover 80 percent of claims ranging from $100,000 to $500,000.

It remains to be seen how that would play with GOP members who have been trying to roll back Obamacare in the name of smaller government.

But Nelson’s case goes like this from a June 15 statement: “The reinsurance fund would be available to health insurance companies participating in state and federal exchanges, encouraging these companies to offer more plans in more markets. This increased competition among insurers would eventually help drive down prices for consumers who purchase health insurance through”

Update 1:39 am: Seven years of efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare failed in a 51-49 Senate vote against a “skinny” repeal plan, with Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain casting a critical no vote.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell called the vote “disappointing.”

Florida Republican Marco Rubio voted yes. Democrat Bill Nelson voted no

“We’re not interested in throwing money at insurance companies, ” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, before the vote. “We’re doing everything we can while our Democratic friends are sitting on their hands.”

President Donald Trump tweeted, “3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!”

“The skinny repeal package makes a mockery of the president’s pledge to lower premiums,” said U.S Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon.

Original  post: The American Medical Association, the biggest organization representing U.S. doctors, blasted a “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act unveiled in the U.S. Senate tonight.

“Action is needed to address problems in the individual insurance market, but the so-called ‘skinny’ bill is a toxic prescription that would make matters worse,” said David O. Barbe, AMA’s president.

The plan would remove the penalty for individuals and employers for failing to obtain insurance coverage and remove a medical devices tax. That might come as welcome news for those who don’t want the government forcing them to buy insurance, but the practical effect is likely 16 million drop out of coverage and premiums for those remaining rise 20 percent, the Congressional Budget Office projected.

Even some Senate Republicans expressed concern that there should be guarantees it will be a vehicle to negotiate with the House, not a final policy.

“The skinny bill as policy is a disaster,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina. “The skinny bill as a replacement for Obamacare is a fraud.”

Senate leadership had to contend with opposition from groups from AARP to AMA.

“Eliminating the individual mandate will lead to adverse selection, triggering higher premiums and further destabilizing the individual market,” AMA’s Barbe said. “The stated goal was to advance policies to lower premiums, but the ‘skinny’ bill would do the exact opposite, harming patients across the country.

“Further, the bill would result in millions more Americans without health insurance coverage.

“Again, we urge Senators to oppose the ‘skinny’ bill and to pivot to a bipartisan effort, working through appropriate committees of jurisdiction and regular order to fix problems and gaps in current law to enable Americans to obtain quality, affordable health insurance.”

Insomniacs can follow the live debates on cable channels as debate continued past 11 p.m

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