Yahoo News peaks behind the curtain of secrecy surrounding the Republican health care bill, to learn what we can about what it may contain. We’ll combine our own original reporting with the best insight from around the internet to give you the latest on the future of health care in America.
With the clock ticking on the Senate’s efforts to turn out their own health care bill by early July, more and more Republican lawmakers are growing frustrated at their own party’s lack of transparency in the drafting process.
These grumblings are not limited to more moderate senators–even Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., have expressed concern about the accelerated timeline that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has undertaken.
“I’ve said from Day 1, and I’ll say it again,” Corker told The New York Times. “The process is better if you do it in public, and that people get buy-in along the way and understand what’s going on. Obviously, that’s not the route that is being taken.”
“The Senate is not a place where you can just cook up something behind closed doors and rush it for a vote,” Rubio told the Associated Press. “So the first step in this may be crafted among a small group of people, but then everyone’s going to get to weigh in.”
McConnell has said the Senate will not take up a health care bill without waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to analyze its potential effect on bringing down premiums. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told the Portland Press Herald last week that she would not vote for the bill without this step.
“I’m not going to vote for a bill whose impact has not been analyzed by the CBO,” Collins said. “I think that it is not a responsible way to legislate, when you don’t know the impact on cost and coverage. I always believe legislation is best crafted through the normal order. I think it’s much better to have committee consideration of bills, public hearings and to have a full debate. That’s the process for most well-considered legislation.”
But Collins, Rubio, Corker and others who have said they would like to have the drafting process be more transparent have not committed to making their support of a bill conditional on it being made public in the form of a committee hearing or markup.
A spokesperson for Rubio referenced us to the interview referenced above and did not say whether the senator would insist on public hearings as part of the process. A spokesperson for Collins did not return request for comment.
McConnell has insisted that a vote will happen before Congress’ customary July 4 recess. But in order to pass a bill he needs 50 votes and there are only 52 Republicans in the Senate, meaning that if any two of his members wants to force a more transparent process they could.
“The health care bill only gets to remain secret if Republican senators allow it to. They could force it into the sunlight if that was their desire,” Vox’s Sarah Kliff wrote Friday. “A decision not to do so is tacit consent to a closed process, no matter how much Republican senators criticize that process to the press.”
It remains to be seen if any Republicans elect to choose that route in an effort to create a more open process. But McConnell has to unify his caucus on other issues as well: Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has expressed doubt about the bill’s effect on Medicaid expansion and potential defunding of Planned Parenthood. More conservative members, like Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., have called for the bill to go even farther.
These facts combine to mean that any senator who wishes to slow down the process and force a hearing, earning plaudits from consumer advocates and their Democratic colleagues, could do so with little trouble.
Democrats have been trying to back off the breakneck speed and hold a hearing in any of a number of committees. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and others sent a letter to their Republican colleagues noting the plethora of hearing rooms available for a public review of the bill and committed to attending any proceedings.
“If you schedule a hearing, we guarantee all Democratic members of the Senate HELP, Finance or Budget Committee will be in attendance at any time or place that you choose,” the Democratic senators wrote, referring to three key committees which could be tasked with reviewing the bill before it hits the Senate floor.
Arguing in the letter that Democrats strived for transparency in the passage of Obamacare in 2010 and said that a closed-door process would harm the American people.
“The American Health Care Act would fundamentally redefine health care in this country,” the letter said. “To draft it behind closed doors and pass it without one hearing is nothing short of legislative malpractice and a repudiation of all that the Senate stands for.”
How the Democrats Plan to Stop GOP Health Care Bill
By Taylor Rogers
As the republicans’ self imposed deadline of July 4 to repeal and replace Obamacare draws near, Senate democrats have begun to weigh their options to keep the health care bill off of the Senate floor. According to Politico, the democrats plan to take one of their first major actions against the bill tonight, by holding the Senate floor until at least midnight to urge republicans to openly discuss their health care bill.
“I think that the Democrats in the Congress should do everything possible, A, to defeat that legislation, which is, again, to my mind, unspeakable,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said on CNN’s “Face the Nation” Sunday when asked about the event.
Despite deep division with the GOP over the secret health care bill, senate democrats will take a strong course of action to stop it. According to Politico, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will also lead the democrats in shutting down the Senate by all unanimous consent requests during the protest Monday night.
“Republicans are drafting this bill in secret because they’re ashamed of it, plain and simple,” Schumer told Politico. “These are merely the first steps we’re prepared to take in order to shine a light on this shameful Trumpcare bill and reveal to the public the GOP’s true intentions: to give the uber-wealthy a tax break while making middle class Americans pay more for less health care coverage. If Republicans won’t relent and debate their health care bill in the open for the American people to see, then they shouldn’t expect business as usual in the Senate.”
Democrats could also use Senate rules to prevent committee meetings lasting over two hours, which would make it difficult for Republicans to schedule votes on routine measures, let alone health care reform according to Bloomberg.
However for many Democrats, getting Republicans to hold public hearings of the bill is of the utmost importance, as Democrats would be unable to stop the bill if it came to a vote.
“Now, in the Senate what you have is you have I believe it is 10 Republicans working behind closed doors to address 1/6th of the American economy,” Sanders said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” Sunday.
“My understanding is that it will be brought forth just immediately before we have to vote on it,” he said. “This is completely unacceptable.”
House Republicans List Demands for Senate Bill
By Taylor Rogers
Amidst mounting uncertainty surrounding the contents of Senate republican’s health care bill, a group of House republicans have taken it upon themselves to ensure that the new bill will include certain provisions from House version of the legislation which passed in March.
“We write to express our serious concerns regarding recent reports suggesting that the Senate’s efforts to produce a reconciliation bill repealing the Affordable Care Act are headed in a direction that may jeopardize final passage in the House of Representatives,” states a copy of the letter acquired by Independent Journalism Review.
The letter, which was drafted by Republican Study Committee led by Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), warns Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell that a Senate version of the bill without certain provisions may not pass in the house. The letter demands that the new bill not rewards states for expanding Medicare, provide ways for states to waive certain requirements of the Affordable Care Act, repeal ACA taxes and defund Planned Parenthood for a year.
“As the Senate continues its deliberative process, we urge you to carefully evaluate the American Health Care Act and consider the important role these specific policies played in building consensus in the House,” the letter states.
Study shows house health care bill would cost 1 million jobs
By Julia Munslow
A new study reveals that the House GOP health care bill would cost Americans nearly 1 million jobs in 10 years.
The Commonwealth Fund and George Washington University researchers found that the American Health Care Act (AHCA), passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in May, would initially boost the economy and increase the number of jobs in the short term, but eventually hinder the economy and reduce the number of jobs in the long run.
“The House bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would greatly reduce the number of people with insurance coverage, effectively reversing gains made since the law’s enactment,” the study says.
The AHCA would repeal taxes and lead to more than 800,000 jobs in 2018, the study reads. But by 2026, those effects would be dramatically reversed as the reductions in support for health care would cripple the initial economic growth. The cuts to Medicaid and federal subsidies would result in the loss of nearly 1 million jobs, a business output worth $148 billion less and gross state products lower by $93 billion.
According to the study, states that expanded Medicaid would face the brunt of the negative economic effects, facing “faster and deeper” losses. States that would be hit the hardest include New York, Pennsylvania and Florida. Only four states — Washington, Utah, Hawaii and Colorado — would see a long-term increase in employment rates, but likely still face eventual decreases.
The health care sector, which “has been one of the main areas of job growth in recent years,” would suffer the greatest decrease in jobs, losing 24,000 jobs by 2018, and see about 725,000 fewer jobs by 2026, according to the study. Though the health care sector would be most directly affected, the effects would eventually reach other job sectors.
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