Sanders, GOP push banner health care bills

WASHINGTON (AP) — Liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders is ready to unveil his bill for starkly reshaping the country’s current hodge-podge health care system into one where the government provides medical insurance for everybody.

Republican senators are preparing to roll out details of a last-ditch effort to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The rival packages have little in common, other than the likelihood that neither is going anywhere.

Seven weeks after the GOP drive to uproot Obama’s 2010 health care law crashed in the Senate, two Republican senators, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy, on Wednesday were releasing their plan for trying again.

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They’ve struggled for weeks to round up sufficient support for the package. It would cut and reshape Medicaid, disperse money spent under Obama’s law directly to states and erase Obama’s penalties on people who don’t purchase coverage.

No. 3 Senate GOP leader John Thune of South Dakota said Graham and Cassidy would need “a double-double bank shot” to prevail, a joking reference to an impossible basketball shot.

Like the failed Senate GOP repeal effort in July, the Graham-Cassidy push will get zero Democratic support. That means Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will need 50 of the 52 Republican senators, a margin he couldn’t reach in July and is struggling to reach now.

Despite badgering by President Donald Trump that he keep trying, McConnell has expressed no interest in staging yet another vote that produces an embarrassing rejection by the GOP-controlled Senate. Conservatives are wary because the bill falls short in erasing Obama’s wide-ranging coverage requirements.

“I don’t think this bill will go anywhere,” said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

Meanwhile, Sanders is introducing his bill for essentially expanding the Medicare health insurance program for the elderly to all Americans.

The progressive wing of the Democratic Party backs his bill, which would make health care less expensive and less complicated for many people and businesses. It would cover the 28 million Americans remaining uninsured despite Obama’s law.

People would simply flash a card and be entitled to coverage, without out-of-pocket expenses like deductibles, according to Sanders aides. They would pay income-adjusted premiums, with the poorest paying nothing…

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