Senate Republicans released a 142-page draft of bill

Medical groups weigh in on GOP health care plan

Click here to read the text of the Obamacare replacement bill (.pdf)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Latest on Senate Republicans’ health care bill (all times local):

3:15 p.m.

Medical groups are beginning to weigh in on the Senate Republican health care bill, and they have problems with the proposal. The American Academy of Pediatrics says the bill would hurt children by scaling back Medicaid.

Its president, Dr. Fernando Stein, says the plan was crafted without input from pediatricians and “would tear down” the progress the nation has made by achieving insurance coverage for 95 percent of children.

America’s Essential Hospitals, which represents more than 300 safety-net health facilities, says the version the Senate released Thursday “might be worse overall” than the House legislation and might lead to hospitals reducing services or closing.

The Association of American Medical Colleges says the Senate plan would leave millions of people without health coverage, and others with only bare-bones insurance plans.

2:15 p.m.

Four Republican senators say they are not ready to vote for the GOP health care bill, putting the measure in jeopardy.

The four are Ted Cruz of Texas, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky. They say in a statement that they are open to negotiation before the full Senate considers the measure.

The four say there are provisions that are an improvement to the current health care system. But they add that the measure fails to accomplish what they have promised to their constituents, “to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.”

GOP leaders hope to vote on the bill next week and can only afford two defections from the 52 Senate Republicans.

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1:50 p.m.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky says he and three other Republican senators are preparing to announced their opposition to the Senate health care bill as it’s written.

Their opposition puts the bill in jeopardy, since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can lose only two Republican senators and still pass the legislation.

Paul tells The Associated Press in an interview that the bill released Thursday resembles “Obamacare” too closely and does not go far enough to repeal former President Barack Obama’s law.

Paul says that he and the other senators are “definitely open to negotiation” but that they need to make their opposition clear in order to ensure negotiations happen.

McConnell is pushing toward a vote next week but Paul’s stance throws that into question.

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1:30 p.m.

U.S. Capitol Police are arresting dozens of people who are protesting cuts to Medicaid in the Senate Republicans’ health care bill.

The protesters have filled a hallway in one of the Senate office buildings, outside the office of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Some of the protesters are being escorted individually. Others are much more reluctant to leave and it’s taking four or five officers to carry them out.

The protesters are yelling “no cuts to Medicaid” as they are being led away.

One protester says he’s with the disability rights group ADAPT. Phillip Corona says he traveled from Wisconsin to make his voice heard. Corona says Medicaid helps his son Anthony get out of bed every morning. Phillip Corona fears that changes to the program “would possibly mean putting him in a nursing home.”

Alison Barkoff – director of advocacy for the Center for Public Representation – helped organize the protest. She says the protesters rely on Medicaid to help them live and she says the health bill amounts to “tax cuts for the wealthy on the backs of people with disabilities.”

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11:35 a.m.

Democrats are roundly criticizing the Republican plan to scrap the Obama health care law.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke on the Senate floor Thursday moments after the GOP’s 142-page discussion draft was posted online. Republicans had been briefed on the plan behind closed doors.

Schumer says, “We live in the wealthiest country on earth. Surely we can do better than what the Republican health care bill promises.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi assails the GOP bill as a tax break for wealthy Americans. The bill would eliminate the requirement that Americans buy insurance or face a tax penalty.

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11:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump is expressing hope that the Senate will pass a health care plan “with heart” following the release of a Republican plan to dismantle President Barack Obama’s health law.

Trump says at the start of a White House event on technology he is hopeful Congress will get something done on health care “with heart.”

The president spoke shortly after Senate Republicans released a 142-page draft of their bill to get rid of much of Obama’s law.

The bill faces broad opposition from Democrats. But Trump says that Republicans would love to have Democratic support.

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11:18 a.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is praising the Republican plan to scuttle the Obama’s health overhaul, arguing it’s the right alternative to a “failed” law.

Moments after the 142-page discussion draft was unveiled, McConnell spoke on the Senate floor, renewing his criticism of the seven-year-old law.

He outlined the GOP plan that would cut Medicaid, slash taxes and waive the requirement that Americans purchase health insurance.

Senate Republicans had been briefed on the plan earlier Thursday.

Emerging from the session, McConnell did not answer when asked if he has the votes to pass the GOP proposal. A vote would occur next week after budget analysts assess the package.

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10:56 a.m.

Senate Republicans have released a 142-page draft of their bill to eliminate much of the Obama health care law.

The measure would cut and revamp Medicaid, the health care program for lower-income and disabled people.

It would repeal tax increases Obama’s law imposed on higher-income people and medical industry companies to pay for expanded coverage. And it would end the tax penalty Obama’s statute imposes on people who don’t buy insurance – in effect, ending the so-called individual mandate.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is hoping to push the measure through the Senate next week. But its fate remains uncertain.

It faces uniform Democratic opposition. And at least a half-dozen Republicans – both conservatives and moderates – have complained about it.

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10:20 a.m.

Senate Republicans are holding a private meeting to hear from leaders about their long-awaited plan for eliminating much of President Barack Obama’s health law.

Lobbyists and congressional aides say the Senate bill would cut Medicaid, end penalties for people not buying insurance and rescind tax increases that Obama imposed to help pay for his law’s expansion of coverage.

Republicans plan to make their plan public later Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell developed the bill behind closed doors. The measure represents his attempt to satisfy GOP moderates and conservatives who’ve complained about the measure.

McConnell hopes to push the measure through the Senate next week. But it remains unclear whether he will have enough votes.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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