McConnell: ‘Discussion Draft’ of Senate Health Care Bill Coming Thursday Morning

By Susan Jones | June 21, 2017 | 9:25 AM EDT

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he expects to release a "discussion draft" of the Senate health care bill on Thursday morning. He made the announcement at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, June 20, 2017. (Screen grab from C-SPAN)

( – “We're going to make every effort to pass a bill that dramatically changes the current health care law,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told a news conference on Tuesday. A

He said the Senate bill, taking shape behind closed doors, will be a “profound improvement” over Obamacare, which is “simply unsustainable.”

“We think we can do better than that. And we fully intend to.”

McConnell said after weeks of private discussions, he expects to “lay out a discussion draft” Thursday morning,” and he’ll produce the actual bill once the CBO scores it – “likely next week.”

He said the Senate bill will take a “different approach” from the House bill, “based upon these endless discussions we've had with the only people interested in changing the law, which is Republican senators.”

Republicans appearing with McConnell at the news conference gave hints of what the Senate bill will look like:

It will “address the issue of skyrocketing premiums,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said.

“We also want to make sure that we protect people with preexisting conditions. And we want to make Medicaid sustainable by giving states flexibility so that they can design programs that work best for their populations, while at the same time they protect those who need that program and ensure that the rug is not pulled out from under them.”

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said the “detested” individual mandate will go away.

“The law says you must buy a government-approved product or pay a fine, pay a fee, pay a tax. People do not like this anywhere, and the Republicans in the House have voted to eliminate it, and the Republicans in the Senate are committed to do the same,” Barrasso said.

“We know that 6 million people chose to pay the fine, according to the IRS, and we know that another 13 million got waivers from having to pay the fine, but not having to buy Obamacare insurance. So there are 19 million people who, of their own volition, decided ‘I don't want Obamacare.’"

Barrasso said the Senate bill “will give the American people the care they need from a doctor they choose at lower costs.”

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said Obamacare “needs to be repealed and replaced with a system that works better.

“That's what we're making an effort to do, with all the protections that have been mentioned here today, for sustainable Medicaid, for access for people with pre-existing conditions, no caps on future policies, continue to be able to stay on your insurance if your family has insurance and you're 26 or under.”

McConnell said the American people will have “plenty of time” to read the Senate health care bill:

“Yeah. Plenty of time. We've been discussing all the elements of this endlessly for seven years. Everybody pretty well understands it. Everybody will have adequate time to take a look at it.

“I think this will be about as transparent as it can be. No transparency would have been added by having hearings in which Democrats offered endless single-payer system amendments. That is not what this Republican Senate was sent here to do.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the Democrat alternative to Obamacare – a single-payer system – “would cost over a half a trillion dollars in 2017 alone,” according to a study done by the National Urban Institute.

“And over the projected life of the bill through 2026, it would cost $6.6 trillion. That is the Democratic alternative, Bernie Sanders's single-pay system that would cost $6.6 trillion over the next 10 years.

“That's not a viable alternative for a vibrant economy that will put people back to work. And that's not giving people the kind of health care they want at a price they can afford,” Cornyn added.