Health deal still eludes Sen­ate GOP

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - DAVID WEIGEL

WASH­ING­TON — Sen­ate Repub­li­cans re­turned to Wash­ing­ton from a hol­i­day re­cess with new and deep­en­ing dis­agree­ments about their health care bill, with key Repub­li­cans dif­fer­ing Sun­day not only on how to amend the bill but also whether it could pass at all.

“They will get a re­peal and re­place bill done,” White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said on Fox News Sun­day.

“I would prob­a­bly put [pas­sage] as 50/50,” Sen. Bill Cas­sidy, R-La., said on the same show.

“My view is it’s prob­a­bly go­ing to be dead,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on CBS’ Face the Na­tion.

Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell’s de­ci­sion to push de­bate on the Bet­ter Care Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Act past the July 4 re­cess was sup­posed to cre­ate space for deal-mak­ing.

“Leg­is­la­tion of this com­plex­ity al­most al­ways takes longer than any­body else would hope,” McCon­nell, R-Ky., said at a June 27 news con­fer­ence an­nounc­ing the de­lay.

In­stead, Repub­li­cans have run in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions, propos­ing ev­ery­thing from a bi­par­ti­san deal to pay for in­sur­ance sub­si­dies to a “re­peal and de­lay” plan that would give them a few years be­fore the Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s sig­na­ture leg­isla­tive achieve­ment, would be fully re­pealed.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the au­thor of a “Con­sumer Free­dom Op­tion” amend­ment de­signed to bring con­ser­va­tives on board with the bill, spent part of Sun­day in­sist­ing its crit­ics were wrong. His amend­ment, also sup­ported by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, would al­low in­sur­ers to of­fer cheaper plans that did not in­clude the es­sen­tial health ben­e­fits of­fered un­der the law Cruz calls Oba­macare.

“You have mil­lions of peo­ple who are win­ners straight off: young peo­ple,” said Cruz on Face the Na­tion. “Young peo­ple get ham­mered by Oba­macare. Mil­lions of young peo­ple sud­denly have much lower pre­mi­ums.”

Over the re­cess, how­ever, key Repub­li­cans said the amend­ment weak­ened pro­tec­tions that the party had promised to keep in place.

“I think that re­opens an is­sue that I can’t sup­port, that it would make it too dif­fi­cult for peo­ple with pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions to get cov­er­age,” Sen. Shel­ley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., told the Charleston

Gazette-Mail on Fri­day. “There’s a real feel­ing that that’s sub­terfuge to get around pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions,” Sen. Charles Grass­ley, R-Iowa, told Iowa Public Ra­dio on Wed­nes­day. “If it is, in fact, sub­terfuge, and it has the ef­fect of an­ni­hi­lat­ing the pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions re­quire­ment that we have in the ex­ist­ing bill, then ob­vi­ously I would ob­ject to that.”

On ABC’s This Week, Cruz said col­leagues like Grass­ley were sim­ply be­ing mis­led. “What’s be­ing re­peated there is what [Sen­ate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles] Schumer said this week, which is that he called it a hoax,” he said. “Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama know a lot about health care hoaxes.”

Schumer’s Democrats, mean­while, have con­tin­ued cam­paign­ing against the Sen­ate Repub­li­cans’ bill, say­ing they will come to the ta­ble on health care only if Repub­li­cans give up on re­peal. Through­out the re­cess, pro­gres­sive ac­tivists, urged on by Democrats, protested and oc­cu­pied the of­fices of Repub­li­can sen­a­tors. On Fri­day, 16 pro­test­ers were ar­rested at the Colum­bus of­fice of Sen. Rob Port­man, R-Ohio, join­ing dozens ar­rested in civil dis­obe­di­ence around the coun­try.

“We aren’t go­ing to al­low a hand­ful of So­cial­ists, many of whom are from New York, to dis­rupt our abil­ity to serve the needs of the Ohio con­stituents who con­tact us in need of vi­tal ser­vices ev­ery day,” Port­man’s of­fice said in a state­ment.

While no promi­nent Sen­ate Democrats ap­peared on Sun­day’s talk shows, Sen. Bernie San­ders, I-Vt., spent the day ral­ly­ing vot­ers in West Vir­ginia and Ken­tucky against the bill.

“Mitch McCon­nell is now try­ing to make side deals in or­der to win votes,” San­ders said in West Vir­ginia. “I say to Sen­a­tor Capito: Please do not fall for that old trick. This leg­is­la­tion is fa­tally flawed, and no small tweak here or there will undo the mas­sive dam­age that it will cause to West Vir­ginia and the en­tire coun­try.”

Con­ser­va­tives spent the week­end dis­cussing a re­peal-and-de­lay plan. At a Repub­li­can fundrais­ing din­ner in Iowa, Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., sug­gested that re­peal­ing most of the Af­ford­able Care Act would force Democrats to the ta­ble to work on a re­place­ment.

“If we can’t re­place and re­peal at the same time, then re­peal the law and stay and work on re­place full time,” Sasse said.

On Fox, Cas­sidy — one of the Sen­ate’s few med­i­cal doc­tors — said the re­peal-and-de­lay plan was a fan­tasy.

“It gives all the power to peo­ple who ac­tu­ally don’t be­lieve in Pres­i­dent [Don­ald] Trump’s cam­paign pledges, who ac­tu­ally don’t want to con­tinue to cover and care for pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions and to lower pre­mi­ums,” Cas­sidy said. “It gives them the stronger hand. I think it’s wrong.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.