There’s one thing we know for certain about the health care bill a select group of Republican senators and their staffs are working feverishly to write: It will result in millions of Americans losing their health insurance.
That’s all we know. Why? Because we, the American public – the bosses of the senators working on the bill as you read this – have not been allowed to see it.
For all we know, the bill could give Vladimir Putin control of our military, make solar power illegal and reinstate mandatory Christian prayer in all public schools. OK, almost certainly none of those. But we’re in the dark.
I could spend this whole piece speculating about what’s in the bill, but until we find out what’s in it – and that may be mere hours before there’s a vote on it – the most relevant question is: Why are Republicans so secretive about what they’re cooking up?
All reports say there will be no hearings on the text of the bill. There will be no amendments. Republicans are hoping to rush through an up-or-down vote on their version of the American Health Care Act passed by the House before the July 4th recess to avoid facing angry crowds who will build pressure for wavering members to vote no.
The best way to make those crowds angry? Give them something specific to be angry about. Look at the reaction to the House bill, which threatens protections for people with pre-existing conditions, would gut Medicaid and would – according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office – strip 23 million people of their health insurance.
Of course people were furious. The bill is an exercise in man’s inhumanity to man. The AHCA isn’t really a health care bill at all; it’s a huge tax cut for the wealthiest Americans funded by taking health insurance away from the people who need it most. It’s designed to do as much damage as possible while still garnering the votes it needed to pass.
And pass it did in the House of Representatives, by the skin of its teeth, with both President Trump and Speaker Ryan and his whipping team going full stiff peaks on the Republican caucus. But even though the reconciliation process means the bill needs only 50 votes instead of the usual filibuster-busting 60, the House bill as passed didn’t have a chance in the Senate.
So a team of Republicans (and only Republicans) is cooking up a cauldron of tweaks and adjustments known only to them. The rest of us – the ones whose lives are going to be changed, damaged by whatever bubbling potion they concoct – don’t get to find out what’s inside. We don’t rate.
I don’t need to engage in any more wild speculation about what’s in the bill. Because no matter how the details of the Senate version shift the result – a few million people this way or that – we know exactly what it’s designed to do. It’s not going to fix the problems of or fill the coverage gaps left in Obamacare. It’s not going to deliver better care, more coverage or lower prices.
We don’t know what’s in the bill because they won’t show it to us, but we know what’s in the bill because we know who’s writing it. And the GOP has made its principles 100 percent clear when it comes to legislating health care in this country. Twisting the idea of “freedom” beyond all recognition, Republicans don’t have a plan beyond tearing down what President Obama and the Democrats built to cut the rate of uninsured in this country in half.
You aren’t more free when you can’t afford to go to the doctor. You aren’t free when you reach a lifetime coverage cap because you were in a terrible car crash or got cancer. You aren’t free when medical bills send you into bankruptcy.
It is outrageous that Republicans would write and try to pass major health care legislation in secret. The American people deserve to know what their elected representatives are doing; we deserve to have a say.
But it also isn’t the least bit surprising. If you’re writing a bill to take health care away from millions of people to give a tax cut to the wealthy, you probably aren’t overly concerned about the morality of the process.
President Donald Trump met with Republican senators to discuss plans to repeal and replace Obamacare. Watch here.