After Paul Ryan and House Republicans had such a difficult time passing their version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), Senate Republicans took notice, knowing they would be up next. After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell witnessed the flood of angry phone calls to House Republicans, street protests, and furious constituent comments to representatives at town halls, he decided that—when it was his turn—he would do things a little differently.
But that doesn’t necessarily equate to doing things better. Lacking even the pretense of transparency and input from both the public and healthcare experts, McConnell’s approach to the AHCA is—arguably—much worse.
Why? Because the lesson Mitch McConnell learned from House Republicans is that if you keep the healthcare bill completely secret, then no one will have anything to talk about, and they will just go away.
No one outside of the healthcare working group (which, by the way, includes exactly ZERO women) even knows what is being discussed in the meetings, much less what will end up in the final version of the bill itself. Neither Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price nor the Republican Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Orrin Hatch, have seen any potential language that will be included in the AHCA.
Secrecy as the Republican healthcare strategy
This isn’t an oversight. Republicans aren’t accidentally bad at keeping people informed about how they’re crafting the healthcare bill. Rather, this is a shrewd calculation that Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans have made to advance their conservative agenda at the expense of the health and economic well-being of Americans. In fact, when one Republican aide was asked about why there was a need for so much secrecy, he replied, “We aren’t stupid.”
Republicans think that it would be stupid to make the healthcare bill public before ramming it through because doing so would give the public a chance to consider the bill on its merits. And if this version is anything like the no good, terrible, very bad House version, we know it will be bad. Even Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said, “I want greater access and lower costs. So far, I’m not seeing that happen.”
The only problem this bill addresses so far is getting to 51 votes, according to Senator John McCain. But if you care about lowering health insurance premiums, or getting pre-existing conditions covered without going bankrupt, or the myriad benefits that working families rely on today under the ACA, you’re out of luck and in the dark.
If you care about lowering health insurance premiums, or getting pre-existing conditions covered without going bankrupt, or the myriad benefits that working families rely on today under the ACA, you’re out of luck and in the dark.
What DO Republicans care about when it comes to the AHCA?
For starters, Republicans are desperate for any kind of victory, so passing a healthcare bill—any bill—is a top priority. One Republican even said the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia and obstruction of justice gave them some breathing room because it was drawing attention away from what they were doing on healthcare. Supposedly, passage of the healthcare bill would amount to a victory in the form of a promise kept by Republicans, but I don’t recall anyone promising to strip away healthcare from millions of Americans. Do you?
Mitch McConnell has said many times that he plans to bring his version of the healthcare bill, whatever it may be, to the Senate floor for a vote before the July 4 recess.
What can we actually expect from the Senate version of the AHCA?
- 23 million Americans will lose their health insurance coverage
- Planned Parenthood will be defunded
- the mega-rich will get lower taxes at the expense of the rest of us
So Happy Birthday America. Good luck with healthcare. You’re gonna need it.
3 things you can you do today to expose the secret Republican healthcare bill
If you, like me, find this 100 percent unacceptable, do these three things to give Mitch McConnell the opposite of what he wanted—an informed and angry public willing to rise up against him: