UPDATE: Seven weeks after the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act, Senate Republicans unveiled their version of the health care bill Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky released a “discussion draft” at an all-members meeting at 9:30 a.m.
The bill’s release follows months of speculation and contentious debate. Ever the dominant issue, health care remains a critical focus for many, as worried Americans swarmed congressional town hall meetings in recent months to voice their outrage.
Some Republican representatives were willing to face their constituents on the issues, while others shunned the events. Senate Democrats have criticized their Republican counterparts for working on the bill behind closed doors.
Democrats have voiced pessimism about the substance of the bill. On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. said he agreed with President Donald Trump, who reportedly called the House bill “mean."
McConnell has disagreed, saying, “It’s going to have a profound, positive improvement over the status quo. The status quo is simply unsustainable.”
But when ABC News’ Mary Bruce asked McConnell if Americans have a right to see the negotiations process, he did not provide an answer.
What does the bill look like?
The bill is expected to dramatically roll back the expansion of Medicaid and establish a system of tax credits to help consumers buy insurance.
However, the details have not been publicized. Although the bill is a wholly Republican-crafted piece of legislation, not all Republicans are on board. Republican leaders want a vote next week, but with health care for millions on the line, some Republican members are asking, What’s the hurry?
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., explained, “The public needs time to digest it. I need time to digest it. We need to gather genuine input from our constituencies. That’s going to take longer than a week.”
This means the Senate bill released today could be very different from the one eventually voted on. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., appearing on ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” podcast, noted that when crafting the Affordable Care Act, Republicans had a chance to offer changes.
“In the Health Committee, I think 160 Republican amendments were accepted into the bill,” he said. “It was debated for 25 straight days before it was voted on. It was scored well in advance. This is a sham.”
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which provides nonpartisan, quantitative analysis to Congress, will evaluate the bill. Republican leaders expect the new CBO score on Monday but are hopeful it could come as soon as Friday.
The CBO estimated that the version of the American Health Care Act passed by the House would leave 24 million more Americans uninsured by 2026 than under the Affordable Care Act. The office also estimated the bill would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion from 2017 to 2026.
ABC News’ Mary Bruce contributed to this report.
(CNN) The closely guarded health care bill written entirely behind closed doors will finally become public on Thursday in a do-or-die moment for the Republican Party's winding efforts to repeal Obamacare.
The unveiling of the legislation will mark the first time that the majority of the Senate GOP conference gets a comprehensive look at the health care proposal. With Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pressing ahead for a vote next week, senators are likely to have only a handful of days to decide whether to support or vote against the bill.
McConnell's decision to keep the details tightly under wraps was intentional and aimed at winning over his colleagues out of the public spotlight, but the secretive process has infuriated Democrats -- and aggravated plenty of Republicans, too.
"I need the information to justify a 'yes' vote. I have a hard time believing that we would have that in such a short period of time," Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, told CNN on Wednesday.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham joked: "We'll know if it's a boy or girl tomorrow."
McConnell has very little room for error -- he can only lose two Republican votes and still pass the bill.
President Donald Trump said Wednesday night he hopes to "surprise" with a plan that has "heart."
"I hope we are going to surprise with a really good plan," Trump said at a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "You know I've been talking about a plan with heart. I said add some money to it. A plan with heart, but Obamacare is dead."
Can McConnell get the votes?
Senior GOP senators were still putting final touches on the draft legislation on Wednesday, and it is still likely to change before any vote as members express their preferences.
Much like in the House, where moderate and conservative lawmakers were deeply divided on health care policy leading up to a vote in May, Senate Republicans also have clashing ideological views and priorities.
Some of the key issues that lawmakers are most concerned about include Medicaid reform, regulatory waivers, the state stability fund and tax credits. McConnell has a tough needle to thread: making significant concessions to conservatives risks losing moderate votes, and vice versa.
What will CBO say?
The legislation will also have to undergo parliamentary scrutiny to ensure that it meets the strict requirements on what can or can't be included in a bill under the budget reconciliation process.
One report that will inform Senate Republicans as they decide whether to support the bill will be a score from the Congressional Budget Office, expected to come out in the coming days.
The CBO analysis will shed light on how much money the bill would cost and how many people would be covered. Senate Republicans hope to see better headlines from this CBO report than the one that the House GOP legislation received. CBO said the House bill would result in 23 million fewer people insured in 2026 than under Obamacare.
Republican legislative leaders from at least four states have acknowledged taking part in a London summer trip with lobbyists and an Ohio speaker who resigned last week citing questioning by federal investigators...More >>
Republican legislative leaders from at least four states have acknowledged taking part in a London summer trip with lobbyists and an Ohio speaker who resigned last week citing questioning by federal investigators about his...More >>