The Repeals Dead…again

The Skinny Bill has been defeated and McCain has confirmed his ‘Maverick’ reputation.

To clarify, The Health Care Freedom Act, and aren’t republicans just so damn original, was voted on in the early hours of Thursday night in America, with McCain giving his vote at the end of the night. And it was so. Damn. Dramatic. 

Say what you will, man knows how to work a room.

Anyway with this Repeal’s been defeated, for now anyway. Regardless of what’s happened the republican party has been promising to repeal Obamacare for seven years, and that’s not a commitment that just gets forgotten. It’s likely the Trump administration will do their level best to sabotage Obamacare, the subsidies and such, hard-line conservative (caucuses and think-tanks alike) will continue to push for this, most likely for years.

Still I don’t doubt McConnell is looking forward to Tax reform right now. Who knows? Might even pass something.

The BCRA and the Repeal Bill aren’t dead yet, though that might not make a difference

Okay so maybe I spoke too soon. 

Currently the Republican senate (seeing as they still refuse to cooperate with the Democrats, who still refuse to cooperate with the Republicans so long as repeal is on the table) is moving forward with two bills (technically four), the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA 2.0 with the Cruz Amendment) and its subsidiaries (the original, and 2.0 without the Cruz Amendment), and the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act (ORRA), both (all) of which lack the votes necessary to pass. This is especially true with John McCain’s recent diagnosis of brain cancer, leaving it in doubt whether he will be returning to the Senate for next weeks session or beyond.

As such it must be noted that for each bill Republicans can only afford to lose one senator, and each bill currently has at least three guaranteed no votes – the BCRA has Senators Collin, Lee, Moran and Paul, with the ORRA has Senators Collin (again), Capito, Murkowski and possibly more, given the context of this particular piece.

To explain, the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act was passed and sent to the Oval Office before, this was just in 2015 when Obama was in office. Naturally it was vetoed as everyone expected, Obama was certainly never going to dismantle his signature legislation. The difference now is there’s a Republican President in office, which means now there are actually consequences if this bill passes. So naturally some people are skittish about a bill that would leave 32 Million people without healthcare actually passing.

So Trumpcare ain’t dead yet. Still there’s currently no real option regarding the healthcare situation, certainly none with any real chance of passing right now, so there’s every chance that these bills (one of them anyway) may be sent to the senate floor simply to die.

 

Citation:
Vox: A guide to the Healthcare Bill

BCRA is dead, and it looks like the repeal bill will fail too

So, yesterday in addition to the earlier holdout Senators Collins and Paul, two additional Senators, Lee (the arch-conservative) and Moran from Kansas, detailed their opposition to the Better Care Reconciliation Act and sunk the Bill. Accordingly Trump and McConnell responded with plans to issue the 2015 repeal bill that then-president Obama vetoed and simply get rid of Obamacare altogether. Ignoring the fact that removing a sweeping healthcare bill with facets involving Tax law, Medicare, Insurance and subsequent regulations and individual state laws is simply too difficult to be realistically passed, it looks like said bill will simply fail as well.

Well McConnell, this is what happens when you don’t include the women in your caucus into your little legislative tea party.

Yes, the three Senators who have immediately signaled their opposition to the 2015 repeal bill are Senators Collin (of Maine), Capito (of West Virginia) and Murkowski (of Alaska). And all three were also not included in the crafting of the bill, you know the one that went out of its way to defund Planned Parenthood for a year, massively reduce the numbers of insured citizens and repealed the Medicare Expansion that all of their states used. Cause reasons.

So, the BCRA is dead, Repeal is dead, and now Trump is saying he’ll simply let Obamacare fail, and he will somehow not be blamed for it. Just Price (his health secretary) for sabotaging it, McConnell for not repealing and replacing it, anybody involved in the crafting of the one bill that tried like his Vice President Pence. Oh, and yes Trump, because of course he would be blamed for letting and encouraging it to fail. 

Honestly I imagine most republicans are glad that this is done now. Maybe now they can move onto taxes? Surely that’ll end well. (heh)

 

Citations:

The Atlantic: McConnell Calls for Repeal Vote
Vox: The Ladies Have It

Senate bill Currently DOA

It ain’t looking good for McConnell. 

With Senator McCain currently recovering from surgery in Arizona (an eye clot above his eye was removed) there are currently (at best) 49 senate votes to debate on the current Bill. Which means that the bill wouldn’t even get a basic debate before being abandoned.

Further, Senators Collin and Paul remain firmly against the current state of the bill, with Collins estimating “between eight and ten” senators being unwilling to vote for it in its current form, she said on ABC’s “This Week”. How accurate that is I’m not sure, but regardless McConnell has pushed back the vote again in light of McCain’s recovery time.

At this stage it is looking increasingly unlikely the bills gonna go anywhere, to the point that Michael Needham, President of the Conservative Heritage Action for America, estimated only 20 senators were actually willing to vote for the bill, and that the Republican party was not serious about repeal. Personally I think they weren’t serious about repeal and replace, but at this stage that’s splitting hairs.

I’m not sure how McConnell will work his way out of this one, but I’m still not about to count him out; he still has that $200 Billion to work with (or whats left of it)

 

Citation:
Politco: Senate Healthcare Bill Stalled

Senate bill Struggles

After returning from the July break perhaps Republicans were hoping, in the wake of Trump and his sons latest scandal, for a bit of breathing room in regards to the BCRA. Given the current resistance to the bill by nearly a dozen lawmakers, the sudden redrafting of the bill to produce two versions, one with the Cruz amendment and one without, and sending both to the CBO, and the current resistance to a debate (much less the actual vote) it’s safe to say that hope has been lost.

I would say there are two problems currently plaguing the Senate leadership: first the lack of transparency. Regardless of their reasoning, at no stage were any senators much less the voting public going to accept a bill they had not seen nor thoroughly vetted, not even on a party line basis. Expecting as much, especially in the face of what amounts to the entire history of the senate, was foolish and frankly I expected better from McConnell.

Secondly, the speed of the bills process, which is unprecedented and stupid. This can be traced to two things: firstly the expectation that a republican president would sign a repeal bill (which they already had) and leave any replacement either for later or for the states, allowing them to move swiftly to tax reform. When Trump won and then claimed that his bill would (functionally) be a repeal and replace bill, the party scrambled, knowing they had little time to move forward with their priorities and expecting something different.

Which is in turn the second point: Republicans don’t deal with healthcare. They focus on taxes and deregulation, and suddenly having to develop a replacement bill for a plan they loathed (or positioned themselves politically opposed to) with no knowledge or experienced hands to call on, and the need to work fast to move forward on their preferred legislation limited their options.

With no real experience to draw on, no willingness to lean on any conservative plans that weren’t hard right (as any external conservative healthcare plan is closer to the center than the ideologues are comfortable with) and the need to use the reconciliation rules to pass any bill on party lines,  has basically crippled any attempt to pass a repeal and replace bill.

There’s still a chance the bill could pass of course. But at this stage the options are fast closing, and I very much doubt republicans want their time as the legislative majority dominated by healthcare.

 

Citation:
Politico: Senate Moderates Sidelined in New Repeal Bill

Why Cruz’s Healthcare Amendment is a big deal.

Today Cruz proposed an amendment, verbally to the GOP leadership in the senate, for the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) in an attempt to bridge the gap between conservatives and moderates and pass the bill. In essence, it provides insurance companies the option of offering an additional, cheaper bill for any prospective buyer along with the current ACA mandated plan. In exchange, the conservative is willing to accept lower tax cuts for Medicaid and vote for the bill, citing greater business freedom and consumer choice.

The reality is this amendment would likely cause the inadvertent creation of high-risk pools, insurance groups which are primarily stocked by the ill, due to the healthy and young choosing the cheaper less comprehensive plans. The ill, old or those with pre-existing conditions would lean towards to the comprehensive plans. Said consumers would need to use their insurance for whatever treatment they require, forcing the companies to pay for the treatments, and in turn requiring the companies to raise costs to afford to do so. This in turn will massively increase premiums, defeating the purpose of much of this bill.

Functionally the amendment (and bill) is not sustainable in the long term, but it could lead to a short term win for the Republican party, as moderates are more likely to support a plan that has more generous cuts for Medicaid and better funding for combating the opioid crisis. But even with said benefits, and even without this amendment, there is one simple fundamental truth that will inevitably result in severe consequences.

This is a bad bill.

It has been designed poorly, mostly in an attempt to bridge political gaps and fit the rules for reconciliation, functions poorly and seems designed only to achieve some form of ‘repeal and replace’. There is no seeming interest in this being an effective bill, no interest in making a conservative form of comprehensive healthcare; the only thing this bill really accomplishes is that it cuts taxes for the rich.

Something like healthcare cannot be relegated to a  political win: it’s a massive part of the economy, it significantly impacts peoples lives, and is considered (in the rest of the western world) a fundamental part of society, and instead of being treated as such, this is only being shown as a political battle. People will die if (when) this bill passes. And no one in the Republican Party really seems to recognize that, trapped as they are in their little bubble on Capital Hill.

I can only hope this bill fails. I don’t want to consider the alternative.

 

Citation:
Bloomberg: Cruz Pitches New Amendment 

Senate Bill Update: Bill vote pushed back

In light of the sudden push back from, well, everybody, Senate leadership has pushed back the vote in an attempt to shore up votes for the Better Care Reconciliation Act. Most likely this means that said leadership will use the 200 Billion shortfall within the bill to fund specific amendments from moderates and conservatives stalwarts, in an attempt to get to 50 votes. Whether that will happen is, frankly, still up in the air.

This does not mean the bill is defeated by any measure, and it’s good that the Democrats recognize that and maintain plans to continually block this bill as best they can in an attempt to kill it. Additionally groups such as Indivisible, Emily’s List and others are making plans to protest both now and if possible during the July Break to prevent this bill moving forward.

Right now my money’s on Heller playing it safe to maintain his seat in the Senate, and Maine Senator Susan Collins and Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, the only pro-choice Republican Senators, defending Planned Parenthood being the major reasons for a possible failed bill. While it’s possible Heller, from Nevada, could be swayed, and Collins and Murkowski could side with the bill in exchange for funding Planned Parenthood, said amendments would most likely push conservatives like Cruz, Lee and Paul to vote against the bill in turn.

Or McConnell will swing the vote. It could still happen you know.

 

Citation:
The Atlantic: Senate Democrats don’t think the Bill is Dead