PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota’s two U.S. senators didn’t commit Wednesday to voting for a revised GOP health care bill set to be unveiled in Washington, but both lawmakers said the measure will move Senate Republicans closer to replacing Barack Obama’s health care law.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell planned to release an altered bill Thursday to Republican senators after he abandoned his initial plan because of GOP opposition. South Dakota Republicans John Thune and Mike Rounds both said the revamped measure has a better chance of passing through their chamber. The two have praised Senate Republicans’ initial bill, but said they wanted to review the revised legislation before pledging support.
The new legislation’s main elements remain easing Obama’s requirements that insurers cover specified services like hospital care and cutting the Medicaid program. Obama’s penalties on people who don’t buy coverage would end, federal health care subsidies would be less generous and there would be $45 billion to help states combat drug abuse.
It would also eliminate tax increases the statute imposed on the health care industry, but would keep Obama tax hikes on upper-income people.
With unanimous opposition from Democrats, the health care bill would fail if just three of the 52 Republican senators oppose it.
Rounds said he supports preserving an Obamacare tax increase on investment income for high earners that leave more money to be used in areas such as Medicaid, high-risk pools and opioid and addiction services. But Rounds said he believes it should eventually sunset after a transition period.
South Dakota Democratic Party Executive Director Sam Parkinson said in a statement that a few “cosmetic changes” won’t change the fact that the bill will hurt South Dakota residents who are working to provide health care for their families to give tax breaks to the rich.