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Republican Senators Are Divided On Their Health Care Bill But Are Working Toward Compromise

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The Senate health care bill that was released Thursday morning, dubbed a “discussion draft” since it is subject to tweaks and amendments before it hits the Senate floor, has mixed reviews among conservative and moderate senators in the Republican party.

“I see some positive features in this bill that are improvements on the House, and I see some negative features based on my first analysis,” said Maine Sen. Susan Collins, one of the more moderate Senate Republicans. “I’m very concerned about the inflator that would be used in the out years for the Medicaid program. It’s lower than the cost of medical inflation and would translate into literally billions of dollars of cuts.”

The health care bill is also facing pushback from four conservative members – Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin – who released a statement Thursday afternoon making it clear that they are not pleased with the current bill but are “open to negotiation.”

“It has to do more repeal. Basically, we are keeping too much of Obamacare in the bill,” Paul told reporters shortly after he announced his disapproval of the bill. “We also are acknowledging that the death spiral of Obamacare will continue. They don’t fix the death spiral, they subsidize it.”

Cruz said he is prepared to offer suggestions to improve the health care bill, one being a Consumer Freedom Amendment. This amendment would, according to Cruz, allow insurers to offer a wide array of insurance plans in a state as long as they are consistent with Title I mandates.

“What that would do is leave existing plans on the market, but it gives new options so that people can purchase far more affordable health insurance,” Cruz said.

“The central concern of a number of senators is that this draft does not do nearly enough to lower premiums,” he added.

While offering his disapproval now, Cruz is optimistic that the Senate can pass a health care bill that will satisfy both his conservative and his more moderate colleagues.

“I have said from the beginning that there is an agreement to be made. And I believe we can get there,” Cruz said. “This draft isn’t there yet. But we can get there, and I am continuing to work night and day trying to bring the Congress together to get the job done.”

Lee weighed in via Twitter:

While some members are pushing for change, one senator seems to be happy with the progress that was made today.

“I came away [from the health care meeting] more positive than I thought I would be,” said South Carolina Sen. Linsey Graham. “I think the ability to get 50 votes is greater today than I thought yesterday.”

Republican senators will have to work quickly to settle their qualms, as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would like to bring the bill to the Senate floor before the Fourth of July recess.

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