Understanding Congressional Confusion on Health Care

Kari Scott
June 20, 2017

While Senate Republican leaders say they plan to vote on their health care bill by the end of the month, their rank-and-file members still have deep divisions over major parts of the legislation - and virtually none of them have seen a draft of the bill.

Other methods the Democrats are likely to use include issuing parliamentary requests to contrast the Obamacare passage debate with Trumpcare's lack of debate and giving long-winded speeches on the Senate floor discussing health care.

Submitting a series of unanimous consent requests "to attempt to force the House-passed healthcare bill to committee, delay" a series of votes on the legislation, "and increase transparency, forcing Republicans to publicly defend their 'no hearings strategy'". The Senate Parliamentarian, who must review the bill after the senators complete it but before it comes to the floor, will decide.

Progressive groups, abortion-rights advocates and labor unions are urging Senate Democrats to slow work to a crawl to prevent Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from passing a health-care bill before a weeklong July 4 recess.

To understand the dilemma facing Senate Republicans as they struggle to repeal President Obama's health care law, just talk to Susan Collins of ME and Rand Paul of Kentucky. They're also under enormous pressure to move as the Trump White House seeks a legislative win and the clock ticks on other priorities, from tax reform to funding the government and lifting the debt ceiling.

"Until I see the bill and the (Congressional Budget Office) assessment of the bill, I'm not going to feel comfortable taking a position", said Sen.

When the House was debating the health-care bill earlier in the year, a significant grassroots campaign against the measure almost derailed it, as Republican lawmakers were bombarded by hostile questions and large crowds in town halls back home.

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The bill also cuts federal subsidies that are provided to people looking to gain health care through the marketplaces that the Affordable Care Act created.

"Republicans are drafting this bill in secret because they're ashamed of it, plain and simple", Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

Edwin Park, vice president for health policy with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said the little information being leaked about the Senate bill indicates it generally resembles the one that passed the House. "We understand this issue pretty well, and we're now working on coming up with a solution". Incredibly, when the Affordable Care Act was passed, the Republicans still complained about Democrats had "rammed" it through, even with the extensive opportunity for Republicans to have input and voice their criticisms.

Further complicating matters, different sectors within the industry have very different stakes in repealing Obamacare and replacing it with the GOP's plan.

The Democrats then listed all the hearing rooms in the Senate where Republicans could hold a debate on the bill.

"Our health-care system affects every single American and one-sixth of our economy", Schumer wrote. But the next time they debate something behind closed doors, the process could normalize a bit more.

Instead, Republicans set up a group of about a dozen lawmakers - originally, none of them were women - to come up with something more moderate.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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