Senate plans vote on ‘skinny’ healthcare bill in marathon session

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Republicans embarked on Thursday on another push to unravel Obamacare, planning a vote on a stripped-down bill after failing to pass broader legislation and complete a seven-year campaign to gut a law that extended health coverage to millions.

While Republican leaders hoped a so-called skinny bill can draw enough votes to pass despite unified Democratic opposition, they still had not unveiled its contents as they headed to an expected marathon succession of votes that promises to drag into Friday morning.

“What there is a consensus on, I don’t think anyone knows,” Republican Senator John Kennedy said.

No. 2 Senate Republican John Cornyn said his party was working on a plan to repeal Obamacare’s mandate that Americans must obtain health insurance or face a fine, as well as a partial repeal of the mandate that employers with more than 50 employees provide healthcare coverage.

Speaking on the Senate floor, he said the bill will be called the Freedom to Choose plan. But he gave few details, and said “we’ll be hearing more” about the plan later.

As outlined by Cornyn, the plan would repeal a few key provisions of Democratic former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, known as the Affordable Care Act, without being a far-reaching overhaul.

“We’ll be voting later on this evening. It’s coming together. You’ll know it when I know,” Cornyn said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the other Republican leaders held a lunchtime meeting lasting more than two hours with his party’s senators to try to reach a consensus.

The skinny bill is expected to eliminate requirements under the 2010 Affordable Care Act that individuals obtain health insurance or face a fine and that businesses with more than 50 employees provide medical coverage. There was also discussion about abolishing a tax on medical device manufacturers, but it was unclear whether that provision would be included.

“I urge everyone to keep working…

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