Health care is too important and too big to be rushed through the Senate

The GOP Health Care bill needs to be debated and done in a bi-partisan manor not rushed for a cheap political win

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kent.) is leading the Republicans in the Senate to pass their version the American Heath Care Act that will serve as their replacement for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. They are working off a template created by the House who passed their version of the bill back in May.

This is not a Health Care bill it is more of a tax bill, because of the massive cuts in Medicaid and Planned Parenthood, as well as other drug related funded groups.

The Senate leader hopes to find just 50 votes to get this passed. Right now that is going to be tough but not impossible because McConnell is a master at getting tings passed.

Let us be very clear on the issue the Republicans are doing this to be able to say that they made good on a seven year promise of repealing and replacing of Obamacare. They really don’t care about working on a long term, well-crafted bill that would improve health care, this is about a cheap political win.  (Not that the Democrats have not pulled this type of stunt in the past)

If this is such a good bill then why not go through the hearing process?

President Donald Trump called the House bill “mean,’ and said that he hoped the Senate would have “heart.” President Trump, knows this will be very bad for his voters. He is likely to be supportive of the bill but he thinks the bill will be changed before it is a vote.

The way that the Senate is going about this process is wrong in so many ways it is hard to pick one but let’s just begin with Hypocrisy.

The bill has been crafted in secret with only 13 members of the Senate, all Republicans, along with a handful of lobbyists helping to hammer out the legislation. By the way in 2017 Health Care lobbyists, who have been involved in the bill’s crafting, has spent over $78 million to get their way on the issue.

They did not consult the American Medical Association, The National Cancer Society, AARP, and other bi-partisan groups that are deeply involved how health care in this country operates.

The Senate is going to try to pass the bill without any Democratic help and that means they can’t afford to lose more than three Republican votes or the bill dies.

On Monday Sen. McConnell made this statement on the floor of the Senate.

“I think we’ll have ample opportunity to read and amend the bill,” McConnell said. He made no real commitment but he has made it clear, he hopes to have a vote on the legislation as early as next week and make no mistake about this is a rush job that far worse than the Democrats did during the passing of the Affordable Care Act, back in 2009.

There was bi-partisan debate on the ACA and with that came amendments to the bill from both sides. Here is a description about those debates from The New York Times.

In June and July 2009, with Democrats in charge, the Senate health committee spent nearly 60 hours over 13 days marking up the bill that became the Affordable Care Act. They broke a record for taking the most time to markup a bill. Then the Affordable Care Act bill was subject to 47 public hearings and roundtable discussions before the Senate Health, Education, Labor Committee. That was followed 27 public hearings by the Pensions Committee and another 53 public hearings before the Senate Finance Committee.

 That September and October, the Senate Finance Committee worked on the legislation for eight days — its longest markup in two decades. It considered more than 130 amendments and held 79 roll-call votes. Affordable Care Act underwent a month long marking up in the bipartisan HELP Committee before being brought to the floor for a vote. The bill was debated for 25 days—one of the longest periods of bill debate the Senate has ever seen before passing it on Dec. 24, 2009.

Another point that must be made is that when, then House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made her often-distorted statement that “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it, away from the fog of the controversy,” the bill had been public for three months. There were a few minor points that were inserted in the final days of the bill but for the most part 90 percent of the bill was known to the public and the Republicans for that nearly three-month period.

To be fair some of the bills details were done in closed door meetings with only Democrats and then Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) who of course is now the Speaker of the House was none too pleased with what he saw.

He penned an op-ed in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in the summer of 2009 that was very critical of the Obama administration’s handling of the situation. “Congress and the White House have focused their public efforts on platitudes and press conferences, while the substance and the details have remained behind closed doors,”

He also had this quote “We shouldn’t rush this thing through just to rush it through for some artificial deadline. Let’s get this thing done right.” — Paul Ryan, July 2009. His Senate partner was also vocal about how rushing things through was something he would never do.

If Republicans got back in control, McConnell vowed in 2014, “there’s not a chance” they would act as Democrats did.

But now it seems that he was right they won’t act like the Democrats did in 2009, they will be far worse. They will rush to pass a bill next week.

The Senate will handle the repeal and replacing of the Affordable Care Act through a rule called Reconciliation, so that it can be passed with a simple majority of 51 members of the Senate and not the normal 60 votes needed.

For those who don’t know here is what Reconciliation here is the definition directly from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Created by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, reconciliation allows for expedited consideration of certain tax, spending, and debt limit legislation.  In the Senate, reconciliation bills aren’t subject to filibuster and the scope of amendments is limited, giving this process real advantages for enacting controversial budget and tax measures.   

Health care is far too important to rush through the Senate. It takes time to get right but it is time well spent.

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Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.