The US Senate plans to vote today, July 25, on a motion to proceed (MTP), which – if it passes with a simple majority – will allow a health care bill to come to the floor for debate and vote. Seems pretty simple, right? Sure – except as of right now (early morning DC time), nobody knows what they’ll be voting on.
At its procedural root, the bill they are voting on is the House’s AHCA, but if and when it is allowed to proceed, they will be able to offer unlimited amendments to alter the bill. The possibilities are close to endless, bound only by the confines of Mitch McConnell’s evil yet expansive mind, but there are three visions that have emerged to lead the pack:
- The Better Care Reconciliation Act. The Senate’s version of a “health” care bill, famously drafted by 13 white Republican men alone. It would cuts $772 billion from Medicaid and would result in 23 million more people uninsured by 2026. This bill may or may not include the bonus(!) Cruz Amendment, which would allow insurers to sell deregulated plans, was so shoddily written that the CBO couldn’t find a way to score it, and which the insurance industry itself came out against it.
- The 2015 Obamacare straight repeal bill that the Senate passed and sent to Obama’s desk. Of course, this was a political show vote on a bill they knew would be vetoed by the President. Immediate repeal would, of course, throw the insurance markets in chaos and would leave 32 million more people uninsured by 2026.
- A yet-unseen new bill. Like the Senate version of mystery-flavor dum-dums, this bill will come wrapped in white paper printed with purple question marks.
There’s a lot to be said about the ways in which “health care reform” has been undertaken by today’s Republican party. These bills (or at least parts of them) are being passed through reconciliation, which means the GOP can ram them through Congress with just a simple majority. (Reconciliation is supposed to apply only to budgetary/fiscal matters, but when your “health” care bill is just a massive tax cut for the richest Americans, you can bend the rules to exclude the minority party.) They’re being sent through with no Democratic input, little GOP input beyond the 13 mentioned above, and with extremely limited discussion. The bills would throw millions off of Medicaid and, quite literally, result in actual deaths and the return of medical bankruptcies.
Given the real-world implications of the bill options facing the Senate today, it’s no surprise that the public, the media, and their fellow elected officials can’t stop asking Republican Senators why they’re pressing forward with a vote. Their answer?
Because we said we would.
In a final, horrifying abdication of their duty to the American people, Republican Senators plan to vote in favor of a bill – a bill that will devastate low-income communities, make seniors’ premiums skyrocket, and reintroduce lifetime limits – because they said they would.
They are not defending the bills on their merits, or explaining how they will help the American people. They are not demonstrating how massive cuts to Medicaid will be offset, and are throwing laughable sums of money back at states in an attempt to placate the governors who are standing up for the health of their constituents – like snatching away a dollar and handing back a dime, then telling them to fight the opioid crisis with it.
They are playing chicken with 1/5 of the US economy.
Against the advice of experts, scientists, doctors, industry leaders, they are taking a vote to dismantle the health care system in this country, all so some millionaires & billionaires can pocket a few more zeros. What do the American Medical Association, America’s Hospitals and Health Systems, the AARP, America’s Health Insurance Plans, and seven thousand Catholic nuns know about smart, economically stable, compassionate health care anyways?
The Senate GOP has used health care as a political pawn for years, and has used disinformation and fear of the legacy of a non-white President to their electoral advantage. It’s those very voters that sent them to Washington that will be harmed the most by these bills. Unfortunately, the GOP can’t come up with any better reason to repeal and maybe replace our health system than because we said we would.