September 25, 2017

The Update Desk: TGIF 9/22/17

One of the topics in last week's TGIF post was the latest attempt by the Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.  News had broken that Arizona Senator John McCain was going to vote no, and I had hoped that others would join him and Kentucky's Rand Paul to kill the bill.

Over the weekend, and really to no surprise at all, the authors of the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill sweetened the pot, ostensibly to help states and balance the distribution of funds for the block grants that states would get and use to develop a health care plan that made sense for them. Except that the states to benefit included homes of the announced or expected 'no' votes, such as Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

There were updates for us today, including

  • some 50 disability activists were arrested after protesting a Senate Finance Committee hearing (the only one scheduled on the current bill)
  • a report from the Congressional Budget Office noting that millions more would become uninsured under the GCHJ plan. The CBO report will not be comprehensive, because they simply don't have time given the September 30th deadline to get something done under 'reconciliation' which requires only a Mike Pence majority to pass legislation.
  • Susan Collins, the Republican senator from Maine, announced her opposition to the revised version of the bill, joining McCain and Paul who had previously said no - and making the bill Pence-proof.

So, what happens now?  That's up to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the man who will decide if it's worth it to actually put a losing vote to the floor, to publicly shame the defectors and put them at risk in their next election. 

He might do that, or he might not, since at the same time he shames those who are agin him, he exposes himself  -- again -- as a poor leader unable to rally his troops, and sets himself up for even more bigly criticism from the president. 

Maybe he withstands that criticism, and thinks about what it seems Americans want: corrections to the Affordable Care Act. The majority of us, according to poll after poll after poll this year, want to keep and fix the ACA, not repeal it and replace it with something that doesn't even begin to come close.

Democratic and Republican governors have a plan they say will work -- 10 of them sent McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer a letter a week or so ago, asking them to drop their nonsense and take a look at something reasonable. 

If McConnell is half a leader, he'll sit down with those governors - Democrats Hickenlooper, Bullock, McAuliffe, Bel Edwards and Wolf, and Republicans Kasich, Walker, Sandoval, Scott and Baker - and Schumer, and get to work accomplishing something that will actually do some good, rather than just crossing off a campaign promise - even one that's seven years old, and counting. 

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