'Time to move on' from healthcare reform, or is it?

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Provider groups applauded Friday's early-morning failure of the Senate's effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Some in the federal government, however, later suggested that their battle may not be over to prevent the Medicaid cuts contained in reform efforts to date.

The so-called “skinny repeal” bill that failed Friday “likely would have led to cutting and capping Medicaid, having a devastating impact on seniors' access to affordable healthcare,” LeadingAge said in a statement on Friday.

“While the specific bill defeated early Friday morning did not contain Medicaid per capita caps,” the group said, “had this bill passed, it would have gone to a conference committee with the House, whose bill cut over $800 billion in Medicaid over 10 years and imposed per capita caps. This would have devastated millions of older adults and their families, who rely on Medicaid for crucial long-term services and supports.”

Both LeadingAge and the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living said they were grateful to the senators who voted against the measure, with LeadingAge specifically citing Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), John McCain (R-AZ) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AL) for voting against their fellow Republicans and with Democrats to seal the bill's fate. With all Democrats against the bill, it could afford no more than two “no” votes from Republicans to pass.

“We will continue to encourage Congress to support and fund quality care for our nation's most vulnerable citizens,” AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson said. LeadingAge said it, too, would “look forward to working with Congress to protect Medicaid from future attacks and fund essential Medicaid programs.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the outcome of the vote was “clearly a disappointing moment” and added that “it's time to move on.” In a press release posted on his website, however, he said Republicans “look forward to our colleagues on the other side suggesting what they have in mind,” indicating that the Senate may not be moving on from trying to reform healthcare delivery just yet.

Continuing to focus on healthcare would seem to please some in the executive branch of the government.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., said that the Trump administration will emphasize regulatory changes to pursue its healthcare goals. “This effort (to repeal and replace Obamacare) will continue,” he promised following the vote.

On Twitter Friday morning, President Donald Trump said “let ObamaCare implode, then deal.” And on Saturday, he tweeted: “Unless the Republican Senators are total quitters, Repeal & Replace is not dead! Demand another vote before voting on any other bill!”

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