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Senate bill: New version unveiled, Cornyn closes 'the door' on extending date to vote

Posted June 26

Republicans released an updated version of their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare Monday, June 26, 2017. The Senate's No. 2 Republican, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, tweeted on Monday the Senate health care bill needs to pass "this week" before premium increases for next year are announced.

It's this week -- or bust -- for the Senate health care bill, as Republicans work to release a new version Monday.

Republicans released an updated version of their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare Monday afternoon.

The newest draft -- which makes just minor changes to the original bill that was released Thursday -- includes a provision meant to incentivize individuals to maintain their health insurance care coverage regardless of whether they are sick.

The newest plan would bar people from getting insurance for six months if they had a lapse in coverage for 63 days or more in the previous year.

The provision wasn't included in the original version of the bill, but health care experts have warned that without some kind of continuous coverage incentive, the health care market could become unstable. The point is to make sure healthy people have insurance, which helps keep premium costs down.

Many insurers have already made their decisions, letting state regulators know whether they'll participate and what rates they want to charge for 2018. A sizable number are asking for another round of steep rate increases. Others aren't even willing to return to the exchanges at all.

Most insurers are citing the uncertainty emanating from Washington as a decisive factor in their decisions. When insurers don't know what the rules of the road will be for next year and beyond, it makes it very tough for them to commit to participating on the exchanges or to set rates.

Insurers have until later this year to change their plans for 2018.

Senate Republicans are expected to make additional changes to their health care bill throughout this week as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tries to find 50 senators to support his bill.

Cornyn says vote 'this week'

Senate Republicans are expected to make additional changes to their health care bill throughout this week as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tries to find 50 senators to support his bill.

The Senate's No. 2 Republican, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, tweeted on Monday the Senate health care bill needs to pass "this week" before premium increases for next year are announced, a notable shift from comments he made Sunday where he described the "drop-deadline" for the legislation as August 1.

"I am closing the door. We need to do it this week before double digit premium increases are announced for next year," Cornyn tweeted.

Just 24 hours earlier from his comment, however, Cornyn described to reporters at a Koch Industries back Colorado Springs retreat the period around August 1 as the "drop-deadline" for the chamber to address health care.

Cornyn, who is the Senate Majority Whip, said Sunday he'd worked the phones all weekend trying to win support for the Senate health care bill and was "optimistic" the legislation would pass.

"It's hard," he told a small group of reporters when asked how negotiations were going between sessions at the Koch retreat. "But there's no excuse for failure. ... When people want to get to 'yes' you can have good faith negotiation and get them there ... But it's going to be close."

He said at the time he'd been working with Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Dean Heller of Nevada to address their concerns about the supporting the bill.

Obamacare in 2018: Many will pay the price of Washington's uncertainty

Johnson expressed strong doubts Sunday that the legislation can make it through the chamber before the July 4 recess, as the GOP leadership wants.

"I would like to delay the thing," Johnson said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "There's no way we should be voting on this next week. No way."

And Sen. Susan Collins allowed for the possibility that the Senate could work late during an open amendment process.

"It's hard for me to see the bill passing this week, but that's up to the majority leader," Collins said on ABC's "This Week" "We could well be in all night a couple of nights."

Timing in the House

A senior House GOP leadership aide told CNN House Republican leaders continue to monitor Senate health care developments, and no decisions have been made about what the House will do when and if the Senate approves their bill.

Leaders are reviewing next steps, including bringing their bill to the House floor for a vote shortly after the Senate acts.

"We will continue to keep all options open at this point," the source told CNN.

Once they do a whip check, House GOP leaders could also decide instead to go to conference on the two bills and negotiate a new version.

If House Republicans feel the pressure to move quickly on a Senate passed bill procedurally the House Rules Committee would need to meet to set the parameters for the debate before anything could go to the floor.

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