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Insurers to Senate: Proposal could harm 74M on Medicaid

Insurance companies are a powerful voice in virtually any congressional debate over health care.

In the case of the Senate health-care bill, some insurers didn’t even wait for the official release before expressing their concerns.

This week, the heads of 10 managed care organizations — which help deliver Medicaid benefits around the country — told Senate leaders they are “united in our opposition to the Medicaid policies currently being debated by the Senate.”

“Our primary concerns lie in the impacts these policies will have on the 74 million low-income, disabled and elderly Americans whose health care coverage through Medicaid rests in the hands of the Senate as you craft new legislation,” the executives wrote in a letter Tuesday.

Their managed care organizations serve 13.5 million people in 23 states who use Medicaid, they wrote.

The executives’ main concern is the way the Senate bill curtails funding for Medicaid. Here’s how our colleagues described that piece of the puzzle:

The Senate measure would transform Medicaid from an open-ended entitlement to one in which federal funding would be distributed to states on a per capita basis. The Senate measure would also seek to phase out the program’s expansion — although at a more gradual rate than the House version.

Yet the Senate bill would go further than the House version in its approach to cutting Medicaid funding in the future. In 2025, the measure would tie federal spending on the program to an even slower growth index than the one used in the House bill. That move could prompt states to reduce the size of their Medicaid programs.

The managed care executives called this “an enormous cost shift to states” that will require them to raise taxes, cut benefits, narrow eligibility or lower reimbursements to health-care providers.

“There are no hidden efficiencies that states can use to address gaps of this magnitude without harming beneficiaries or imposing undue burden to our health care system and all U.S. taxpayers,” the executives wrote.

Read more of their letter here.

GOP health-care bill: The latest news and reactions

Senate Republicans are set to release a health-care bill that would curtail federal Medicaid funding, repeal taxes on the wealthy and eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood as part of an effort to fulfill a years-long promise to undo Barack Obama’s signature health-care law.

Follow along for the latest updates throughout the day, and check out the current whip count here.