Despite his recent diagnosis with brain cancer and surgery to remove a related blood clot, 80-year-old Senator John McCain announced he will be returning to Washington DC from his home in Arizona to take part in a crucial vote on healthcare reform.
The Senate is scheduled to vote on a Republican sponsored healthcare bill which, if passed, could drastically undo much of Obamacare’s legislation. The fact that McCain is making a heroic effort to return to the Senate floor in time for this vote seems to indicate that his vote could make the difference in the bill’s passage.
Over the past few weeks the Republican bill has come within a hair’s breadth of its own demise several times as the GOP struggled to make good on its 7-year promise to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature legislation.
At the moment, a Senate vote is predicted to be uncomfortably close; with 52 votes for the Republican bill, and 48 against, making McCain’s vote a key vote for success.
“For Senate Republicans, this is their chance to keep their promise. Over and over again, they said, ‘Repeal and replace, repeal and replace.’ But they can now keep their promise,” President Trump said.
The GOP legislation would eliminate tax penalties on people who do not buy health insurance policies; cut the Medicaid program which helps the poor; and would reduce the amount of government subsidies available for consumers who wish to purchase insurance but can’t afford it.
The trend to merge health insurance companies into fewer unique entities continues apace as Anthem Inc. made a bid to buy rival health care insurer Cigna Corporation.
The latest bid for Cigna came after months of negotiations between the parties and a previous offer ten days ago. The latest takeover bid came when Anthem offered to buy Cigna for about $175 per share. Cigna is still saying no to the offers.
Health care giant Humana Inc. has also entered the fray, discussing a possible takeover of Cigna as well as Aetna Inc.
On Monday morning Anthem’s market value was estimated at $43 billion, and Cigna’s was approximately $35 billion.
Cigna stock soared in the wake of the Wall Street Journal story about the takeover bid, climbing 12 percent in active midday trading, reaching $153.74 per share. Anthem shares also grew, adding 2 percent to close at $164.22.
According to data supplied by the Gallup Well Being Index, the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, has made significant changes to the numbers of people now with basic health insurance benefits.
In 2006 the number of American without any type of health insurance reached an all-time high of close to 44 million people. That accounted for about 17% of Americans. The trend continued through 2010, with many states having even lower percentages of their populations covered.
Today, with the implementation of Obamacare there are more Americans with some kind of health insurance than ever before. Since ACA was launched 10 million more people joined the ranks of the health-insured and no longer have to fear paying full price for medical care.
A key piece of the federal health law for small businesses will not go into effect as planned, according to officials of the Obama administration. The government stated that they will need more time to implement the “Small Business Health Options Program,” otherwise known as SHOP, which will hopefully give small businesses choices of health care plans.
The program was supposed to get underway in 2014, but the Department of Health and Human Services have offered that the during the first year businesses that utilize one of the 33 state exchanges which will be run fully or partly by the federal government will only be able to offer their employees one plan. Choices of a variety of health plan options will not be available until an unspecified time in the future.
Administration representatives said that the remaining 17 states administering their own exchanges may also choose to delay the implementation of SHOP if they need to.
“For transitional purposes we have proposed that in 2014, a state may elect to have businesses choose one plan to offer employees, and in 2015 employees will be able to choose from the full range of plans in the marketplace,” said Fabien Levy, an HHS official.