Saturday, June 17, 2017

How Eight Republican Senators Explain Their Healthcare Bill

The Republican Senate wants to pass its healthcare bill before the July 4 recess.  A reporter asked eight Senators to describe the goals of the Senate bill and how the bill will achieve those goals.  That was a brilliant idea, but the answers he got were not very brilliant.

There was universal agreement about one thing.  They all claim that Obamacare is failing.  According to the GOP senators,  Obamacare is failing because premiums are rising.  Therefore, they are trying to cobble a plan together that will keep premiums from rising.  Its hard to understand how they can craft a bill that will keep premiums from rising while they are also cutting federal spending enough to pay for eliminating the tax on wealthy households that is part of Obamacare.

Of course, there is a way to cut federal spending, and keep premiums from rising, but they don't want to talk about that solution.  They must reduce the number of people who will have access to insurance and/or reduce the benefits that insurers can afford to pay in response to lower premiums.

It would take a genius to solve the problem that Republican senators face as they try to pass a healthcare bill that fixes the problems in Obamacare without talking about the loss of coverage or the reduction in benefits.  The eight Republican senators in this interview put their genius on full display.

John McCain probably came closer to describing the objective than anyone else.  He said that the goal was to get 51 votes in the Senate and pass the bill.  The problem according the McCain, and several others, is that there is a lot of disagreement about how that can be done.  The Republican senate has a political objective to show that it can repeal Obamacare but they can't figure out how to do the impossible without making a lot of voters unhappy.  The Senators, who think they know what they are doing,  are comfortable talking about the problems in Obamacare, which can be easily fixed, but They are unable to describe a replacement for Obamacare that provides superior coverage at lower cost.  McCain has it right.  Their goal is to get 51 votes.  They could not care less about the consequences.  The shame of the Republican Party is that only three Senators could keep the bill from passage but it would take courage to vote against the bill.  Courage is a scarce commodity in the Republican Party.

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