Competing Factions Complicate GOP’s Health Efforts

“Group of 13” may win the day

Senate Republicans may have too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to health care, and it’s complicating their efforts to draft a bill to dismantle the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), according to The Hill.

The main Senate group working on crafting a revised version of the House’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) is a task force of 13 men backed by Senate leaders.

There is also a rival group led by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), who have cosponsored their own version of a PPACA replacement bill called the Patient Freedom Act.

Yet another group, led by Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), is focused on Medicaid expansion.

And then there’s a faction of conservatives that includes Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), who want the Senate bill to be as close as possible to the House’s AHCA.

The mix also includes members of the House, who are trying to weigh in on the process; GOP governors, who some senators say should have a larger role in the deliberations; and the Trump administration.

Republican senators appear to be aware of the potential problems.

“The only way of doing this, you can’t have 52 people drafting the bill,” Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) told The Hill.

Republicans have little room for error. They can lose only two votes and still get a bill out of the Senate, assuming united Democratic opposition.

If progress is made, The Hill says, it will likely be done through the original 13-man task force.

“If the group of 13 comes up with something, all the other groups will fall away,” said Rodney Whitlock, former acting health policy director for Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

Source: The Hill; June 6, 2017.