Wednesday, seven Republican senators declared their opposition to a clean repeal of Obamacare by voting against a 2015 bill that six of the seven had voted for previously.
If that weren’t enough proof that a significant number of Republicans are pitiless hypocrites and liars, a subsequent vote Wednesday on an amendment by Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev,. shows just how hopeless and liberal the Republican Party has become on health care.
Senator Heller’s amendment contained language to express “the sense of the Senate” that Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion is a priority and must remain untouched on any cuts. The text included language stipulating that the Senate “should not consider legislation that reduces or eliminates benefits or coverage for individuals who are currently eligible for Medicaid” and “should not consider legislation that prevents or discourages a State from expanding its Medicaid program to include groups or individuals or types of services that are operational under current law.”
Ten Republican senators voted for this amendment, essentially declaring that everything is fine with Medicaid expansion, that government involvement in health care is dandy, and that conservatives’ calls for reforms to unsustainable entitlement programs like Medicaid are against “the sense of the Senate.”
These big-government, progressive Republicans are …
Senator Shelley Moore-Capito, R-W.V.
Senator Bill Cassidy, R-La.
Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine
Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.
Senator Cory Gardner, R-Colo.
Senator Dean Heller, R-Nev.
Senator John McCain, R-Ariz.
Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska
Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio
Senator Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska
So-called “sense of” amendments are not legally binding law, but rather expressions of the Senate’s majority opinion. In this case, the opinion expressed by these senators is that Medicaid has no problems, and the more government in health care the better.
“I want everybody to express for their own states how important the Medicaid program is for their states and I would urge a yes vote from my colleagues,” Heller said.
The problem is, Medicaid is a destructive program. As Conservative Review’s Daniel Horowitz explains:
The Medicaid program is an appalling blot on America’s consciousness. As late as 1990, nearly 25 years into the program, there were just 22.9 million enrolled at a cost of $41 billion. As late as the end of the Clinton presidency, there were 34.5 million enrolled at a cost of $117 billion. Now, between Medicaid and CHIP there are 74.5 million people enrolled at a cost of $410 billion, plus an additional $150 billion spent by the states. Enrollment and costs are set to spiral out of control, lining the pockets of the hospitals and insurance cartel.
We spend almost as much on this program as we spend on the military. And this program keeps people in poverty, offers horrendous care, distorts prices, and contributes to sickening administrative costs, burdens on doctors, and inflating the cost of health care for the rest of us.
Yet these Republicans have no problems with it.
The symbolic amendment was soundly defeated, 10-90. It received no Democratic votes because it contained language regarding the repeal of Obamacare.
And there is the disconnect for these progressive Republicans who voted “yes” on Sen. Heller’s amendment. They pay lip service to the fact that Obamacare has been a disaster for Americans and insurance markets, and yet they fight with all they have to preserve the status quo.