Those of you following the Senate’s efforts to craft its own health care bill probably know it’s being done away from the public eye. GOP Senators have held secret meetings to hammer out the bill’s details over the past several weeks and many now believe the new plan may soon be unveiled.
Senate Republicans are working to finish their draft health care bill, but have no plans to publicly release it, according to two senior Senate GOP aides.
“We aren’t stupid,” said one of the aides.
It’s important to understand the sentiment behind the comment. The Senate Republican aide was effectively conceding that the GOP proposal will be awful and unpopular, and it’d be “stupid” to let the public see it because the scrutiny would risk derailing the entire effort.
The plan, therefore, is for conservative senators to finalize a plan, quietly share it with the Congressional Budget Office, and then rush it onto the floor for a vote. There would no hearings, no amendments, no expert testimony, no input from industry stakeholders, no bipartisan negotiations, and no transparency.
According to NBC News, “The opaque process makes it impossible to evaluate whether there are any significant changes coming to health care. There are no hearings with health experts, industry leaders, and patient advocacy groups to weigh in where the public can watch their testimony or where Democrats can offer amendments.”
The private talks have been fruitful; Republican senators are now edging closer to a health care bill that could pass. It would likely lead to millions fewer Americans having health coverage and billions of dollars being cut from Medicaid, the nation’s largest insurer, as the House bill did. The upper chamber is mere weeks away from an expected vote, even though most senators have yet to see any legislative text.
Many of the nation’s health care industry leaders aren’t happy with all the secrecy. TheHill.com recently ran a headline that read, “Health Groups Want Their Say on Senate Republicans’ Plan.” Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association President & CEO Greg Vigdor is quoted in the article.
“We’ve been trying to make sure our senators understand how devastating that would be if the Medicaid cuts went through,” said Greg Vigdor, president of the Arizona Hospital Association.
He argued that ObamaCare’s exchanges, and not Medicaid, should be the focus of reforms in the replacement bill, known as the American Health Care Act.
“There’s a real problem with how the exchanges work,” he said.
In contrast, “Medicaid in our state works pretty well.”
How close the bill is to being fully cooked is hard to say, since those writing the bill aren’t talking. But USA Today did write that Senators are “plowing ahead with a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare in the hopes of getting legislation on the floor by mid-summer.”
We will continue to follow this story closely and bring you the latest information as we get it. The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) believes any changes to the current health law must serve the people, patients and communities of Arizona. If you agree, please click here to send a message to Senators McCain and Flake. We hope you will join us as we continue to fight to bring better health to the people of our state. Making sure Arizonans are as healthy as they can be is the best way to one day reach our long-term goal of making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!