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Understanding Congressional Confusion on Health Care

18 Juin 2017

A small group of Senate Republicans - comprising of 13 white men and zero women whatsoever, to be precise - is now writing the Senate version of the overwhelmingly unpopular American Health Care Act (AHCA), which the GOP was able to pass with a narrow margin in the House of Representatives.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell once had passionate views about how carefully Congress should consider sweeping changes to the health care system.

"I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in it's birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and to bid defiance to the laws of their country", Thomas Jefferson said.

They voted on a slap-dash bill even before the Congressional Budget Office had a chance to score it.

The House of Representatives also is under pressure to approve the Senate bill instead of holding a conference to iron out differences between House and Senate.

They include Dean Heller of Nevada and Jeff Flake of Arizona, both up for re-election next year, as well as Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.

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Collins has been a leading advocate for a deliberate health care reform process focused on giving more people access to care. Dick Durbin (D-IL) asked if he or anyone in his department had the Senate's version of Trumpcare. "I haven't seen any legislative language". To suggest that they are going to allow the taxes to stay in place and to not lower premiums in a significant way is a non-starter for me, it is critically important that the number one objective we have is to lower premiums. "But they've chosen to do it the way they are and we'll see".

Republicans have been meeting in private to negotiate the bill's details - which would likely mean millions of people losing their health coverage.

McConnell, R-Ky., has been under criticism, including from some fellow Republican senators, for writing the Senate version behind closed doors. The ACA was debated for more than a year and went through an elaborate hearing and amendment process, including some changes urged by Republicans. "It's a enormous transfer of wealth - probably one of the greatest in a short time in recent American history - where you have millions of people across the country who have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act and are protected under Medicaid and Medicaid expansion, and you're taking that away", King said.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, a doctor from Louisiana who has proposed his own healthcare legislation, also expressed his desire for a more open process. "I'm trying to get an answer to this question; I can't get any out of our meetings", Heller said. Go to soon, and they risk not having enough buy-in to actually pass something. According to the Times, Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, said: "They're ashamed of the bill". But they will be able to say that they finished their greatest work: They repealed and replaced.

How long are they planning to keep the very people the bill would affect in complete darkness?