Although progressives have been forcefully imploring Republican senators to reveal the text of their Obamacare replacement health care bill, it is with some trepidation that public anticipates its release. The bill is expected to contain cuts to Medicare, language that would imperil people with preexisting conditions, make it tougher for many citizens to afford health insurance at all, and more. Conservatives also share the goal of curtailing women's reproductive rights, but reports indicate that abortion restrictions will likely be dropped from the latest version of the so-called American Health Care Act (AHCA).
After rewriting the already-passed House bill in a super secretive process, Republican leadership will unveil its plans for the future of American health care Thursday morning, and they reportedly aim to vote on the soon-to-be proposed legislation sometime next week.
If the architects of the AHCA, commonly known as Trumpcare, have opted to relax provisions that would target abortion access, however, it's not because they've had a change of heart. Instead, there's something much more technical going on: Republicans are relying on a process called budget reconciliation to pass this as-yet unveiled version of their bill. This ensures that they would need only 50 votes — not 60 — to make their legislation the law of the land, and Democrats won't have the power to filibuster. As such, though, every provision must be budget-related. And it seems as though those that go after abortion access won't meet that criterion.
The iteration of the bill that passed the House in May would have made it illegal for tax credits to be applied to insurance plans that cover abortion, according to The Hill. But Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said Wednesday that it seemed as though that restriction would not pass the strict protocol of the budget reconciliation process. And that's not the only concession that Republicans will have to make if they want to ram their incredibly unpopular legislation through this way.
The Hill also reported that the aspect of the bill that would serve to deprive Planned Parenthood — the women's health provider where women can access abortions — of federal funding likely won't survive to the time of the actual vote. If it does, Collins reportedly told journalists, she and fellow Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska will attempt to remove it via an amendment.
Still, members of the GOP are working to circumvent the limitations that the budget reconciliation process imposes. For example, the House version of the bill installs a $115 billion fund to stabilize the insurance market, and the Senate's is expected to as well, according to Business Insider. But the Senate will probably have to drop the House's stipulation that this money cannot go toward any entity were abortions are performed. So, the Senate is expected to reroute those funds through the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). That's because it's already illegal for CHIP money to flow into any health organization where women can get abortions.
Lightening the restrictions on abortions is sure to upset the most conservative lawmakers in the Senate. It's even possible that these concessions could cost the bill some far-right votes (which is why the House bill originally was unsuccessful, of course). One thing's for sure: The health care fight is far from over.