Senate GOP updates health care bill to include 6-month lockout for uninsured

Liz Goodwin
Senior National Affairs Reporter

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday updated the health care bill he is whipping votes for to penalize people who do not have insurance and wish to purchase it on the exchanges.

The new bill says that people who have lacked insurance coverage for 63 days or more must wait six months before reentering the marketplace. This change is meant to prevent a “death spiral” of healthy people waiting until they become sick to buy insurance, driving up costs for everyone. The Senate health care bill gets rid of Obamacare’s individual mandate that requires everyone to purchase health insurance or pay a fine.

The bill’s adjustments are unlikely to win over any of the five GOP senators who are publicly opposed to the current legislation. Four conservative senators said they want the bill to repeal more of Obamacare, and one moderate, Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, said the bill does not do enough to protect Nevadans on Medicaid. More changes are expected later this week.

Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trailed by reporters as he walks to the Senate floor of the U.S. Capitol. (Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

McConnell wants to vote on the health care bill by the end of the week, despite demands from several Republicans, including Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., for more time. He must get at least 50 members of his 52-person caucus to support the bill.

The Congressional Budget Office will release its score of the legislation later Monday, estimating how the bill will change coverage levels over 10 years. Experts told Yahoo News they believe the report will show 15 to 23 million fewer Americans will be insured under the legislation than under current law.