In a few hours, Senate Republicans will vote whether to start debate on a plan to overhaul American health care, without knowing exactly what is in that plan or, by extension, how it will change the lives of millions of Americans.
There are few, if any, comparable examples of a bill with such wide-reaching consequences, being voted on so abruptly, with so many critical questions left unanswered less than 24 hours before it is taken up.
Senate leaders are bent on holding a vote. But after the plan was drafted in secret, it now needs substantial revisions under the Senate budget rules. And yet the White House and GOP leadership insist on forcing members to vote on Tuesday.
It is an unprecedentedly opaque process to try to pass legislation that overhauls an industry worth more than $3 trillion, which would undercut a law that has extended health coverage to more than 20 million middle-class and low-income Americans in the past seven years.
The fate of Obamacare, arguably the most significant domestic policy passed in a generation, hangs in the balance. Medicaid, a pillar of the American safety net since Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society, could be fundamentally changed by the Senate bill, with federal spending capped permanently for a program that covers more than 70 million of the most vulnerable people in the country.
But as the vote approaches, there is no final text, no Congressional Budget Office score. Senate Republicans at least acknowledge the absurdity, if you ask them — this, coming from a party that spent seven years eviscerating Democrats for passing Obamacare in the quote-unquote dead of night.
So what are Republicans throwing together at the last minute?
No seriously. That’s what it’s being called.
The Senate is expected to bring to the floor a “skinny repeal” bill that would repeal Obamacare’s requirement to purchase insurance — and violate the health care promises that Republican leaders, including Trump, have spent more than seven years making. It is just taking away the mandate for individuals to buy insurance. It would also repeal the ACA’s mandate that employers with 50 or more employees provide coverage, according to lobbyists and Senate aides, as well as eliminate the law’s tax on medical device manufacturers.
What will happen with skinny repeal? It would make premiums go up, not down (as some Republicans say). Insurance competition would decline as insurers worried about healthy Americans fleeing the individual market. Rather than all Americans gaining coverage, millions would lose the plans they currently rely on. This cartoon explains why.
When the Congressional Budget Office analyzed a bill similar to skinny repeal, which also rolled back this provision, it estimated that 15 million Americans would lose coverage. The agency estimated that “repealing the individual mandate would also result in higher health insurance premiums” for those who purchase their own coverage — by approximately 20 percent.
There is disagreement over whether or not Obamacare is in a “death spiral”, but this does not stop it. It might even CREATE a death spiral if not speed up an existing one.
John McCain is flying in from his brain cancer rehab, which one would HOPE would mean this thing doesn’t pass. And it might not. The first hurdle is the motion to put it on the table.
The Washington Post says Republicans are close to moving forward:
Senate Republican leaders appeared close to securing the support they needed Tuesday to begin debate on their plan to rewrite the Affordable Care Act, according to lawmakers and aides, though the proposal they would consider could change dramatically once senators begin voting.
Republican leaders now see a scaled-down version of the bill as perhaps their best chance of winning final passage on some kind of measure to overhaul Obamacare. If senators passed this stripped-down version — which some Republicans refer to as “skinny repeal” — they would set up a House-Senate conference to resolve the differences between the two proposals, buying Republicans more time.
The new strategy will allow Republicans to sustain their years-long effort to unwind the 2010 health-care law, though they have yet settle on a replacement for it. But it is also is a tacit acknowledgment that more sweeping efforts to revise or even simply repeal the law cannot succeed, even as Republicans control both Congress and the White House.
They’ll probably pass the motion to begin debate — and hail it as a great victory.
Capito, Heller and Rand are the new yes votes. Watch: Murkowski, Lee.
Odd though. The motion to proceed will pass and then what will they debate? A bill that is merely a concept at this point?
Three GOP no votes stop the bill. Collins and Murkowski are “no”
It all comes down to Johnson, who is seen as being on the fence. (McCain is on his way in from the airport and expected to vote yes)
McCain votes “aye” after receiving a round of applause as he enters.
Johnson votes “aye” right after. It’s a done deal. Vote will be 50-50 and Pence will cast deciding “yes”
Dems are all voting “no”
Pence breaks the tie.
McCain with a scar on his head speaks about why he voted to allow debate on whether to take healthcare away from millions. Although he seems to be chastising partisan politics. Announcing his retirement?
Now McCain railing against screaming AM radio pundits and urging cooperation. Some applause, but not much.
He’s doing some preening about how GOP and Dems won’t work together, and he’s right, but the fault really lies with the Freedom Coalition in HIS party, and he needs to say so, without the “both sides”-ism.
McCain did say he won’t vote for a blind repeal of the ACA, even though he voted for the debate. Thank goodness.