As House members head home for a week-long recess after last week’s narrow passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Senate begins its review of the legislation, which would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The Senate’s Republican leadership established a 13-member working group of conservatives and moderates in the party who are concerned about the bill’s proposed Medicaid cuts. The members of the working group include:

  • Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY);
  • Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN);
  • Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX);
  • Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT);
  • Tom Barrasso (R-WY);
  • Tom Cotton (R-AR);
  • Ted Cruz (R-TX);
  • Mike Enzi (R-WY);
  • Corey Gardner (R-CO);
  • Mike Lee (R-UT);
  • Rob Portman (R-OH);
  • John Thune (R-SD); and
  • Pat Toomey (R-PA).

The group is expected bypass the primary committees of jurisdiction — Finance and HELP — to draft the bill. While the Senate can pass a bill with Republican votes alone, Republicans’ 51-seat majority means they can only afford to lose two votes.

Another group of senators who were not included in the original working group are proposing their own fixes to the bill. This group includes Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

Following House passage of the AHCA, America’s Essential Hospitals released a statement highlighting the devastating effects the bill would have on patients and essential hospitals. The association also sent an Action Update to members detailing key provisions of the bill.

Other Senate Activity

The Senate Committee on Finance postponed an upcoming hearing on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, originally scheduled for May 9. The new date of the hearing has not yet been announced.

Meanwhile, the Senate in a 57-42 vote on May 9 confirmed Scott Gottlieb as Food and Drug Administration commissioner.