Right now Senate leaders are offering what ever it takes to pass a health care bill no one wants so they can keep a political promise.
Millions of Floridians are looking at the future of health care in the state as well as the country and they are full of uncertainty. At this moment Republicans are facing the dilemma of passing one of the worst pieces of major legislation in history just so they can make good on their promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare.
This is a case of politics over quality health care and the losers are the American people. The Republicans are doing the same thing that the Democrats did in 2009 and that is attempting to pass a bill that affects everyone in the country as well as between one fifth or one sixth of the nation’s economy without a single bi-partisan vote.
But then again it far easier to keep a campaign promise than it is to actually legislate. No, working on crafting a bill that would really be a thoughtful, well-crafted bit of legislation, where hearings were held, experts were brought in and voters could see how the process works are so 1990.
According to both ABC News and the Associated Press here are the changes the Senate made to their first pass at the bill.
Some of the revisions in this version of the bill include: maintaining some Obamacare taxes for the wealthy, allowing people to pay for insurance with pre-tax money and providing financial support to help low-income people purchase healthcare.
In an effort to address some concerns voiced by moderates, the revised bill also includes a $45 billion dollar sweetener to fight the opioid epidemic.
To address some conservative concerns, the new version includes an amendment that Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas introduced, which would allow insurers to offer cheaper bare-bones plans that don’t cover essential health benefits. This addition could bring down costs for some, but has caused contention with some moderate senators because it could hurt those with pre-existing conditions.
So, here we go, no bill that anyone really wants just something that will allow people to tell the voters I told you we would keep out promise. Sorry, if anyone dies here but remember, I repealed Obamacare.
Meanwhile, the Republicans in the Senate need at least 50 votes to get the repeal and replacement of Obamacare passed and they aren’t close to having that number heading into a big weekend.
The Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of the state of Kentucky is considered by most Washington insiders as the one Republican that can get things done in DC, but this might just be too heavy a lift even for the leader.
The hard no votes belong to Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who wants a clean total repeal vote with replace coming later and Sen. Susan Collins of Susan Collins of Maine, who can’t vote for the bill because of the drastic cuts to Medicaid proposed in the bill.
That leaves moderates in states where Medicaid expansion was agreed upon by in many cases Republican governors, who for the most part hate the bill.
The very important gang of undecided have both conservatives and moderates in the mix. They are led by Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota, Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of the great state of West Virginia.
McConnell can’t stand to lose any of those undecided votes or the bill might never make it to the floor. At this point the focus is on three members of that gang of undecided led by Portman of Ohio where his longtime friend Gov. John Kasich R-Ohio) has lobbied hard for the Senate bill to be defeated. Next on that list is West Virginia’s Capito, who is getting pressure from her constituents as well as from Sen. Joe Manchin the Democrat who represents the state, who has supported a bi-partisan path to get things done.
Lastly, comes Nevada Sen. Heller, who clearly in trouble, because not only did Hillary Clinton win his state, but he faces a tough re-election campaign. He has had a great deal of pressure from high ranking members of his state party to vote no on the bill.
Many are hoping that the bill fails and there will be a bi-partisan effort to really create a truly good health care bill. One that repairs the Affordable Care Act and makes it work for everyone.
It takes more than a promise for that to happen so let’s see if that dream makes it into reality. If leaders actually do the hard work of creating quality legislation, not just partisan bickering.