The crafting of the Senate Obamacare bill was a cloak-and-dagger affair. The details of the bill were kept secret until yesterday.
Some senators immediately recognized this bill, the misnamed “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017,” for the sham that it is. In a joint statement released shortly after the bill’s text, Senators Rand Paul, R-Ky., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., declared that because the bill does not keep the GOP’s promise to the American people “to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs,” they will not support it.
In a Facebook post, Sen. Cruz elaborated on his opposition to the bill in its current form, explaining that while there are encouraging features in the bill, there is much left to be desired. “However, as currently drafted, this bill draft does not do nearly enough to lower premiums. That should be the central issue for Republicans – repealing Obamacare and making healthcare more affordable. Because of this, I cannot support it as currently drafted, and I do not believe it has the votes to pass the Senate.”
“But it is important to remember that what was released today was only a draft,” Cruz continued. “I am hopeful that as we openly debate this legislation, real improvements will be made prior to floor consideration so that we can pass a bill that provides the relief from Obamacare that Republicans have repeatedly promised the last seven years.”
This is the salient point moving forward with this legislation. The text made available Thursday is a discussion draft, meant to be debated in on the floor of the Senate. Amendments ought to be offered by senators to move the bill closer to the promised repeal legislation. Sen. Cruz is already offering one such amendment to permit insurance companies to sell plans that don’t comply with Obamacare’s insurance mandates.
Other conservative senators seem content to accept the legislation in its current form. Senator Tim Scott, R-S.C. – who holds a conservative A, 90% Liberty Score®– appears supportive of the bill.
Is Tim Scott reading the same bill we are? https://t.co/T6WOKw6G4u— Mark R. Levin (@marklevinshow) June 23, 2017
Other “conservative” senators have remained silent. The office of Florida Republican Marco Rubio released a statement indicating that Rubio will “decide how to vote on health care on the basis of how it impacts Florida.” His staff is currently crunching the numbers. A spokesman for Senator Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said the senator “is digging into the text of the discussion draft and we will politely decline to comment further at this time.” Senator Tom Cotton, R-Ark., came out strongly against the House bill. His office has not yet released a statement regarding the Senate bill, which is to the Left of the House bill.
Silence from conservatives will do little to improve a bill that breaks every promise Republicans made to voters on health care reform. With a potential vote fast approaching, time for conservatives in the Senate to speak out in one voice and demand better from the “Better Care Reconciliation Act” is quickly fading.
We hope that Cotton, Rubio, Sasse, and more Senate conservatives will join the other conservatives in opposition to the current bill. Republicans are in the majority. Whatever reforms they enact, voters will see them as bearing sole responsibility.
If a GOP health care bill passes and premiums do not begin to drop before the midterms and the next presidential election, it risks imperiling the rest of Trump’s presidency because of the GOP’s missed opportunity to alleviate one of American’s main concerns: rising health insurance and health care costs.
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