Friday Five - July 7, 2017

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July 07, 2017

It’s Friday and this week in our Friday Five series, MAXIMUS is tracking the five changes Senate Republicans could make to pass their Better Care Reconciliation Act; how CMS Administrator Seema Verma emerged as a key player in the health care debate; and, why Senate GOP leaders may boost funding for a special state innovation fund.

1. Five Changes the GOP Might Make to Health Care Bill

As the national health care debate continues, the Senate GOP’s Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) remains in limbo. To garner more votes in favor of the bill, Republicans could make changes to key aspects of the legislation. From boosting subsidies to adopting Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) “Consumer Freedom Amendment,” The Hill explores what changes the Senate could consider implementing.

2. Who Is Seema Verma? The Behind-the-Scenes Player Helping Sway Republicans on Health Care

Seema Verma, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator, is a key player in the Senate’s health care debate. After playing a “major role” in the passage of the House of Representatives’ American Health Care Act, Verma’s job in the Senate is to “soothe lawmakers’ nerves over changes to Medicaid by walking them through the changes and providing state-specific data.” CNN explains how Verma emerged as a central force alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

3. Why Is Health Care So Expensive in the First Place?

The US spent nearly $10,000 per capita on health care in 2016 – more than any other nation in the world – and health care costs continue to outpace the general rate of inflation. Regardless of Republicans and Democrats’ different versions of health care legislation, there are certain factors that consistently contribute to the high cost of health care. CBS News breaks down the high administrative costs, use of defensive medicine and more that lead to growing health care costs.

4. GOP Leaders Prepared to Make Big Boost to Health Care Innovation Fund

Senate Republicans’ BCRA would dedicate $62 billion over eight years to encourage low-income populations with high health care costs to buy insurance. However, Senate leaders are reportedly willing to “pour a lot of money” into a special state innovation fund to address moderate Senators’ concerns that the legislation does not do enough to help low-income people purchase insurance. The Hill details how Senate leaders are negotiating and where the boost in funding could come from.

5. Republicans Opposing Health Care Plan Hear From Voters

While Congress has been in recess for the July 4 holiday, health care activists were ready to confront the elected officials at public appearances to persuade them to maintain or change their BCRA votes to “no.” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) told reporters she is still a “no,” while demonstrators gathered for a “Tuesdays with Toomey” protest outside Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R-PA) office. CNN reports on the Senators who saw support or faced backlash on health care from their hometown constituents.