In a bold move to revive their healthcare bill, Senate Republican leaders are getting ready to propose giving $200 billion in assistance to states that expanded Medicaid, according to a person familiar with internal Senate negotiations.
The huge sum would be funded by leaving in place ObamaCare's net investment income tax and its Medicare surtax on wealthy earners, according to the source briefed on the proposal.
The figure is likely to outrage conservatives who would prefer to use the savings from the Senate healthcare bill to pay down the deficit.
The source said the aid would be targeted primarily at Medicaid expansion states, adding it would be distributed on "the back end" of the bill's timeline, when the legislation would phase out the generous federal contribution for expanded Medicaid enrollment - a central pillar of ObamaCare.
The goal is winning the support of wavering moderate Republicans who will make or break the legislation: Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.).
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to confirm or deny the pending offer, as has been the leader's practice of not commenting on negotiations.
The windfall for Medicaid expansion states would come on top of a proposal that Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, made to moderate GOP senators at a lunch meeting at the White House on Wednesday.
Verma told nervous senators from Medicaid expansion states that the administration would be willing to give states flexibility to use Medicaid funds to subsidize the healthcare costs of people not enrolled in the entitlement program.
The so-called "Medicaid wrap-around" would give states a way to help low-income people who don't qualify for traditional Medicaid if they end expanded enrollment because of a reduction in federal funding.