Senate Passes Bipartisan Medicare Bill

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The Senate passed a bipartisan bill Medicare on Sept. 26 that included updates to how people with chronic conditions are treated.

The legislation, known as the CHRONIC Care Act, passed unanimously but must still get through the House of Representatives before heading for White House approval. The measure would enable doctors to use more technology to communicate with patients remotely, according to The Hill.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, described the legislation as "one of the few bipartisan health care bills to pass the Senate this Congress."

"This legislation will improve disease management, lower Medicare costs and streamline care coordination services -- all without adding to the deficit," Hatch added, The Hill reported.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden backed the measure, which was introduced in 2016 by a bipartisan working group.

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"Today is a big day in the ongoing effort to update and strengthen Medicare's guarantee to seniors," added Wyden.

The vote came as the GOP's final hope of repealing Obamacare by the end of September is on the verge of evaporating.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed at a Sept. 26 press conference that the Senate would not vote on the latest repeal bill, drafted by Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy.

"The possibility that some big Republican health reform will be back on the table seems awfully risky to me politically," Joseph Antos, a health care expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told ABC News. "There's a midterm election next year."

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Speaking at the White House Sept. 27, President Donald Trump indicated he has not given up on repealing Obamacare.

"I will negotiate with Democrats to see if we can make a bipartisan bill," Trump said, according to USA Today.

Trump noted that he hoped a vote would be possible in Congress on a bipartisan proposal in the first quarter of 2018. He added that he intends to sign an executive order on health care in early October.

"I'll probably be signing a very major executive order where people can go out, cross state lines, do lots of things, and buy their own health care," added Trump.

Republicans only have until the end of September to pass a bill repealing Obamacare with a simple majority in the Senate. After that, they would require 60 votes to implement new legislation, meaning support from Democrats would be necessary.

Democratic Sen. Patty Murray said if Trump is "truly serious" about negotiating a bipartisan agreement, he should abandon "partisan Trumpcare efforts."

"It would be a welcome shift for President Trump to stop his health care sabotage and instead work across the aisle to help strengthen families' health care and lower their costs," added Murray.

Sources: The Hill, USA Today, ABC News / Featured Image: Joe Frazier/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: The white House/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons, Gage Skidmore/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons

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