‘McConnell-Care’ Stays in Committee Through Next Week

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky will delay the vote on his legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act until after the week-long July 4th vacation, saying that, “We will not be on the bill this week, but we will still be working to get at least 50 people in a comfortable place.”

That may take some doing, because there are at least eight Republican Senators who, for one reason or another, are not going along with the Republican party’s efforts to replace Obamacare with Trumpcare. Opposition to McConnell’s bill is coming from two directions, including conservative Republicans who believe the new bill is too generous and more liberal Republicans who believe that the bill does more harm than good.

The New York Times is reporting that five Republicans  – Rand Paul (KY), Susan Collins (Me), Dean Heller (NV), Mike Lee (UT), and Ron Johnson (WI) – have already indicated that they will not support McConnell’s attempt to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. Collins summarized the feelings of this group when she said that she had a hard time believing she would  have enough information to support a motion to proceed this week. Collins was not on the all-male committee that put the bill together behind closed doors.

In addition to the five balking Republicans who are refusing to bring the measure to the floor, there are at least three more Republicans who are wavering in their support for the proposed legislation, a group that includes Ted Cruz (TX), who thinks the proposed bill is too generous, and Lisa Murkowski (AK), who comes from a state that stands to lose some $3 billion and where more than 8,000 people would lose their health care coverage if the bill passes.  Jeff Flake from Arizona, who is facing an increasingly Democratic electorate in his state rounds out the group of eight who are standing up to the high pressure tactics of McConnell’s team.

Heller and Flake are considered the two most vulnerable Republicans facing re-election in 2018 and are quite likely to face conservative challenges for the Republican nomination if they don’t vote for McConnell’s bill, but they are even more likely to face rejection at the polls if they do vote to kill Obamacare and replace it with the Trumpcare program.

Calling the bill Trumpcare is somewhat misleading because the bill that came out of the House and the one that is expected to come from the Senate are not the bills he wanted to sign, nor are the House and Senate Republicans likely to agree to a compromise that will ensure the passage of the bill.

Efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act hit a major roadblock yesterday when the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released a report indicating that 22 million Americans would lose their health care over the next decade if McConnell’s version of health care reform were to become law.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI), who is himself facing a difficult re-election landscape in 2018, told Fox and Friends that, “It’s not that people are getting pushed off a plan. It’s that people will choose not to buy something that they don’t like or want.” Ryan was referred to the widely-disliked requirement that attempted to force everyone into the health insurance market, which was the feature of the Obama plan that made it economically feasible in the first place.

Someone else who is not on the bandwagon: President Donald Trump, who has indicated that he wants a bill that will be more affordable and give Americans a better health care program. If the bill doesn’t pass, Trump will be seen as having failed to deliver on one of this most important campaign pledges. If it does pass, he will be seen as going back on his word to make health care more affordable for Americans.

Largely unmentioned during most of the discussions about the impact of the delay was the effect this would have upon the Trump tax cut, which relied upon cutbacks in the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid to make the tax cuts for the richest Americans more palatable to the more conservative budget hawks in the Republican party.