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Trump now says he misspoke as he stood side-by-side with Putin. Also on the Wednesday rundown: A Senate committee looks at the latest attempt to weaken the Endangered Species Act; and public input is being sought on Great Lakes restoration.

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Senate Healthcare Bill Sounds Alarms; Vote Expected Next Week

Health advocates predict the Senate version of the GOP healthcare bill would force states like Nevada to significantly trim their Medicaid enrollment. (Children's Advocacy Alliance AZ)
Health advocates predict the Senate version of the GOP healthcare bill would force states like Nevada to significantly trim their Medicaid enrollment. (Children's Advocacy Alliance AZ)
June 23, 2017

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Health advocates warn the Senate GOP bill to repeal and replace Obamacare would cause hundreds of thousands of Nevadans to lose their healthcare - by phasing out the Medicaid expansion and then capping the program altogether.

The Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) lifts the government mandate for people to have insurance, and lets states allow insurance policies that exclude services like maternity and mental-health care.

Anthony Wright, executive director of the nonprofit group Health Access, says Medicaid pays for about half of all births in the U.S. and covers 40 percent of children and two-thirds of people in nursing homes.

"The President admitted that the House bill was 'mean' and, if anything, the Senate bill is meaner," he says. "In particular, the cuts to Medicaid are steeper, more draconian."

The Senate bill also lets insurance companies charge Americans ages 50 to 64 five times what younger people pay, compared to the current limit of three times. And it lifts a ban on charging much higher premiums to people with preexisting conditions.

Supporters of the BCRA say it will reduce the federal deficit and give people access to lower-cost plans that cover fewer health benefits.

Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto opposes the bill. Sen. Dean Heller put out a statement expressing reservations about the bill, without saying how he will vote.

The Congressional Budget Office said the House version of the healthcare overhaul would cause 23 million Americans to lose their insurance over the next ten years - its analysis of the new bill is expected on Monday.

Wright predicts the Senate version will decrease access to healthcare on a similar scale.

"From just a pure numbers point of view, this is an over $800 billion cut to Medicaid to fund a $900 billion tax cut for health insurers, drug companies and the wealthy," he adds.

The BCRA faces an uphill battle, though, as multiple Republican Senators have already announced their opposition.

At this point, the bill is set for a vote next Thursday. If it passes the Senate, House leaders have said they want to vote on it before the July 4 recess, when lawmakers go back to their districts.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV