Republicans in the U.S. House were rightly criticized last month for moving way too fast to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
They voted on a slap-dash bill even before the Congressional Budget Office had a chance to score it. Only weeks later, after the bill’s supporters had a chance to run and hide, did the CBO announce that it would strip 23 million Americans of health insurance.
Now Republicans in the Senate are trying to ram through their own version of health care reform, moving so quickly, secretly and cynically as to put the House to shame in their mastery of the dark arts.
“Look, we’ve been dealing with this issue for seven years,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said this week. “It’s not a new thing.”
To which we reply: Look, you’ve been dealing with this issue for seven years. Why not take a breath, slow down and come clean with the public about what this legislation would do for them — and to them?
But there’s your answer: What it would do for you, and to you, likely is not good.
A Senate working group — all men and no women — hasn’t offered the public even a peek at the bill their drawing up, but they face the same conflicting priorities that made the House bill draconian. To lower costs, people have to be bumped. President Donald Trump’s call for insurance cover that is cheaper, better and for everybody is an impossible circle to square.
The House bill, in addition to denying affordable insurance to some 23 million people now covered, also would greatly reduce benefits in some states, squeeze working-class and poor Americans out of Medicaid and raise premiums for people in their 50s and 60s.
Republicans need only 50 votes to jam through their legislation, thanks to procedural maneuvers, but the bill’s passage still is not a sure thing. A handful of Republicans, like Democrats, are pushing back against McConnell’s attempts to overhaul America’s health care system behind closed doors.
For all the criticism Republicans heaped on the process by which Democrats pushed through President Barack Obama’s signature health care bill — without a single Republican vote —the public for the most part knew what was in the bill, and public hearings were held for more than a year.
By the way, we now know what President Donald Trump really thinks of the House bill. Over lunch with senators on Tuesday, he complained that it was “mean” and urged the senators to pass a more compassionate bill.
All the more reason to quit working in the dark.
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