Senate Releases Text of Secret Healthcare Bill, and it is Terrible

UPDATE #4: NARAL Pro Choice Colorado tears into the bill:

“This bill is an insult to Colorado women, Colorado families, and to the democratic process itself. It not only allows states to opt out of the requirement insurance cover maternity care, it could eliminate contraception coverage requirement and ban private insurance from covering abortion care. Women’s reproductive health care would essentially be zeroed out altogether by the Republican bill.

Colorado already has a constitutional amendment banning public funding for abortion care. This bill would ban PRIVATE insurance from covering abortion care. So Colorado women needing abortion care would have to pay out of pocket. Not acceptable.

This is just one of the many reasons Republicans are trying to jam this bill through with no hearings and no testimony from Colorado medical organizations and Colorado citizens. It is wrong.

We will be communicating this No on Trumpcare message to our thousands of members and supporters across the state. And we will be asking them to call Senators Gardner and Bennet and ask them to strongly and vociferously oppose this attack on Colorado women and their health care.”


UPDATE #3: Gov. John Hickenlooper says hell no:

“The Senate’s health care bill, like the House bill, will take Colorado backward. It makes even deeper cuts to health care for the most vulnerable and shifts the costs onto hard working middle class Coloradans. It’s no surprise that a bill drafted in secret, without public hearings and scrutiny, and planned for a rushed vote within days, will hurt Coloradans. We urge Senators Gardner and Bennet to vote no on this flawed bill.”


UPDATE #2: Via Rep. Dave Young in Greeley, Sen. Cory Gardner’s staff has flown the coop:


UPDATE: The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews has Sen. Cory Gardner’s farcical latest statement on legislation he once claimed to have had a hand in drafting:

“This is the first I’ve viewed the legislation, so I am beginning to carefully review it as we continue to look at ways to rescue Colorado from the continued negative impacts of the Affordable Care Act on our health care system,” Gardner said in a Thursday statement. “It’s frustrating that instead of actually reviewing the legislative text some have decided to immediately oppose the bill before it was even introduced. This deserves serious debate, not knee-jerk reaction.”

On one level, the response makes sense. The full proposal was presented to Gardner and the rest of the Republican caucus for the first time Thursday morning and reading the bill — let alone understanding it — is a process that could take hours, given its length of 142 pages.

On the other hand, it’s a curious reaction, given the context of Gardner’s role in crafting the bill, the politics of health care reform and his comments about the legislation in recent days. [Pols emphasis]




As the Washington Post reports:

Senate Republicans on Thursday released a health-care bill that would curtail federal Medicaid funding, repeal taxes on the wealthy and eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood as part of an effort to fulfill a years-long promise to undo Barack Obama’s signature health-care law.

The bill is an attempt to strike a compromise between existing law and a bill passed by the House in May as Republicans struggle to advance their vision for the country’s health-care system even though they now control both chambers of Congress and the White House.

At around 9:30 a.m., Republican senators entered a room near the Senate chamber where leaders started briefing them on the bill. The legislation, labeled “discussion draft” and numbering 142 pages, was then posted online by the Senate Budget Committee.

The Senate’s version of Trumpcare is, by and large, the same steaming pile of crap as the proposal that was narrowly passed by House Republicans in early May. In fact, the argument you will hear discussed over the next several days will debate whether or not the Senate healthcare bill might actually be worse than the House version.

It’s entirely possible that the Senate released such an awful bill now so that they can pretend to “moderate” the language later — perhaps after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) officially scores the Senate bill early next week. As the Daily Intelligencer explains:

These concessions will have outsized political impact. They will be new and newsy, and reporters will be drawn from the old story — the outlines of the bill — toward the newer developments. The major coverage of the bill will likely focus on changes in the proposed law that make coverage more affordable. The overall law will still make coverage less affordable overall, but that large fact will remain in the background.

Social scientists call this this “anchoring effect.” People tend to have hazy ideas about what is sensible or fair, and have a cognitive bias toward “anchoring” their sense of the correct answer by whatever number is presented to them initially. In one typical experiment, people in job interviews who start by mentioning absurdly high sums, even as an obvious joke, could get higher offers.

Whatever happens from this point forward, Congress will have to make astronomical changes just to make the legislation slightly less-awful. The Senate version released today will increase premiums and deductibles; destroy Essential Health Benefits and protections for pre-existing conditions; raise premiums by 500% for Americans aged 50-64; and make catastrophic cuts to Medicaid.

So, now what, Cory Gardner?

36 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Moderatus says:

    Obamacare has to go. The country was okay before Obamacare and we'll be fine without it. This is a very generous proposal considering, and Democrats should make it better if they want to cooperate instead of beating people up in the streets.

    • unnamed says:

      Okay.  Moldy.  Where is my Aca article?  Where's my Russia article?  And the good and evil of Cory Gardner statements?

      Better get your rectal cranial inversion treated pronto.  Trumpcare won't cover it.

    • Duke Cox says:

      No, Fluffy, the country was not "okay" before Obamacare. My premiums rocketed upwards every year…my coverage was shit, to the point that, in the decade + I was covered by United Health Care, they never spent a dime on covering any of my health care costs. Every penny was out of pocket because I am a healthy guy, but my ex-wife had a pre-existing condition, so our premiums and deductibles were outrageous.

      You, like your conservative troll brethren here, are so willfully ignorant, there is no affecting your myopic view of this real world in which the rest of us live. "This is a very generous proposal"…

      Noblesse oblige, indeed, you sorry son-of-a-bitch. Generous to whom?… the gazillionaires you worship everytime you load "Lives of the Rich and Famous" into your VHS player? Generous to the very people who have profited from the work and sacrifice of millions of other people who struggle everyday to survive and improve their lives.

      Not that you will, but maybe any reader of this blog who doesn't get why your attitude is so cruel and regressive will read a short essay by Jack London entitled "How I Became a Socialist." It is a telling of how Jack London came to see the injustice inherent in our capital based economy and how humans are treated when Robber Barons rule.

      Like now…..

      • Gilpin Guy says:

        My point Duke is that the Affordable Care Act may be failing but no specifics are given as compared to what and no mention is made of the deliberate attempts to sabotage it to keep it from working.  If you have a car that runs but the people you rely on to gas it don't then yeah it's a failing car but the failure is not due to the construction of the car.  No doubt the people who believe they have 'real Colorado values' will overlook this point but it bears repeating.

      • unnamed says:

        Duke.  Moldy is too stupid to comprehend you.  He is also a typical Republican.  And it bears repeating:  Republicans dont care about anybody.

      • Voyageur says:

        Jack Lonndon was a great writer.  He was also a virulent racist who did much to whip up the Great White Hope frenzy when Jack Johnson was heavyweight champion.  Screw the little lefty bigot.

    • Mike W. says:

      He's just upset because Macedonia is surrounded by countries that provide universal coverage. You should be proud Moddy, ya’ll do pretty well in the ol' FYROM.

    • Davie says:

      Here's a picture of Moldy explaining Trumpcare to a young child:

    • DawnPatrol says:

      Wow, Shemp, your asinine low-energy diatribe is a virtual strawman convention.

      You are an evil, tragically stupid POS, aren't you, comrade? We’re gonna cram single Payer or Medicare For All down your miserable, goddam, conscienceless throats the the very first chance we get. And there won’t be a thing you can do about it.

  2. skeptical citizen says:

    In summary, whether you call it Trumpcare, the AHCA, or whatever cranks your engine, the Senate's Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 is really just more of the same:

    Tax Cuts for the Wealthy

  3. ParkHill says:

    Single Payer Here I Come… Right Back Where I Started From.

    Obamacare is a market-based mechanism to stabilize the individual insurance market, those not covered by employer or union insurance benefits. Obamacare greatly expanded the insurance market, and provided for solvency in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. 

    Medicaid is a big part of the individual market covering a lot of non-working people like the elderly, the disabled and poor kids:

    2/3 of nursing home residents.

    1/2 of all births

    40% of disabled adults

    1/3 of poor kids

    The Republican Party is cutting a trillion dollars from medicaid in order to give its base (i.e. millionaires) huge tax cuts.

    Notice that the Republican Party doesn't care a fig about deficits; not when they can give tax cuts to the wealthy.

    • RepealAndReplace says:

      Obamacare is a market-based mechanism to stabilize the individual insurance market

      Of course it is. Some of us are old enough to remember who came up with Obamacare.

      It was the handiwork of Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole who wanted an alternative – which they called a market-based solution – to Hillary's socialized medicine plan in 1994.

  4. RepealAndReplace says:

    Not a very promising start, is it? Perhaps after they go home for the Fourth of July recess, there will be such a big public outcry in favor of TrumpCare that they can flip a couple of those "no" votes.

  5. Gilpin Guy says:

    As far as Gardner's staff is concerned, would you want to be manning the phones or speaking to constituents today?  High tailing it to the local bar would be preferable to try and explain to constituents the true consequences of what Gardner et al have done and lying only works on some of the people all the time.

  6. mamajama55 says:

    Today I had a pleasant conversation with one of Senator Gardner's staff people. It was part of the Protect Our Care Day of Action, sponsored by OFA. I'm not going to say which office I went to, as the names of visitors are posted on the signup page.

    I started out on a positive note, thanking Senator Gardner for his bill on warning China against militarizing islands in the South China Sea. She had no idea WTF I was talking about. I win the nerd prize today!

    I shared with this lovely lady my personal story about how the Medicaid expansion had allowed me to access critical healthcare at a time in my life when I had no employer-provided insurance. She listened politely,  asked intelligent questions, and said that she was glad that I was well now.

    I asked why the GOP Senate version of the health care plan had to be "secret". Her answer was that it was not secret at all – "Anyone can go to their meetings. They have several working groups." Without prompting, she defended the all-male makeup of the 13 Senators working on the health bill – "There are always women in the room," she claimed.

    I noted that women are often seen but not heard – I wondered whether the women's voices and ideas were also contributing to the writing of the bill. "That's something neither of us can know," she smiled.

    I asked what Gardner was doing about the Medicaid expansion, since that was the part of Obamacare which had directly affected me. Her answer was that Gardner is concerned that Medicaid not be taken away too quickly, but "Obamacare is going away," she said proudly.

    She also said that Gardner and his family, and she herself, were on Obamacare – she presented it as a sacrifice – that Gardner was willing to experience the horrible trauma of the ACA just so that he could empathize with what his constituents were going through. I asked about the rumored "waiver"  (still in the House bill), which would allow Congressmembers, families, and staff to keep the good parts of the ACA, while disallowing them for everyone else. She seemed shocked, said she hadn't heard of that, and repeated that "The ACA is going away."

    On that "waiver for Congress" thing, someone who understands legalese better than I, I think that Caplan's tweet here says that this exemption allowing Congress and families and staff to keep ACA care intact is still in the Senate bill. Am I right?

    She said that keeping Medicaid coverage was "a priority for the Senator." Oh, really? Because it seems to be pretty well gutted in the proposed  new legislation.

    She maintains that Senator Gardner "wants to improve Obamacare".  Her anecdote about how to "improve Obamacare" consisted of the following: Apparently, there is a doctor in (unnamed nearby small town), who has found that it is better to take no insurance at all from anyone, because of the costs of paperwork. She claims that this doctor then is able to keep costs low, although he can't work with any hospitals. She wouldn't give me the doctor's name, so I have no way of checking on it.

    She said that Senator McConnell said that this was just a working draft which will be fixed, implying that it is no big deal, everyone's concerns will be heard, etc.

    I said goodbye and thanked her for her time. BTW, her phone rang unceasingly while we were talking. Apparently, people were trying to call in! wink

    I wouldn't exactly call this an exercise in futility, although neither of us changed our minds. For me, it was an opportunity to be a real person, a real face and voice and story, rather than just the boogeyman "protester" or "critic". What shocked me was that she really seemed to believe some of the obviously untrue things she said.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      My thanks for your efforts to have a genuine conversation with this member of Gardner's staff.  You are probably the most civil person available to talk to his staff.  I read your summary and got a good feel for how his staff views health care in America.

      • mamajama55 says:

        Thanks…but anyone can do it. I was trained by CCL, the Citizens Climate Lobby.

        Basic rules are:

        *start out on a positive note – commend the congressmember for something they did right, or a mutual interest you share, alma mater, whatever.

        *appeal to mutual shared interest. In CCL's case, there are plenty of sound capitalist and conservative reasons to vote for a carbon fee and dividend.

        *don't get sidetracked – keep a tight focus on one issue – in this case the carbon fee.

        CCL's been effective – there is a small but growing number of bipartisan MoCs interested in a practical solution to climate change.

        • Gilpin Guy says:

          It's that 'don't get sidetracked and resort to flying spittle and wildly gesticulating hands' point that would be my toughest challenge.

          • mamajama55 says:

            Practice makes more gooder. It helps that I've taught adolescents for 15 years.

            • RepealAndReplace says:

              Good skill set. I imagine that teaching children is a lot like lobbying politicians.

              • mamajama55 says:

                There are similarities – Nowadays, with Citizens United, and the Trumpster modeling contempt for norms and rules, it's like trying to discipline the naughty kid with the parent on the school board, who is a star jock, and who lives next to the Principal.

                They believe that they're entitled to an A, and no complaints about their behavior, and hurry up about it.

                But it's the voters who send in the ultimate report card.

                Here's a fun fact, from Phillip Doe of Counterpunch, on "The Overwhelming Tawdriness of Government in Colorado":

                Average salary of a teacher in Weld County: $37,000

                Average salary of a County Commissioner in Weld County: $105,000. (They had voted themselves up to $120,000, but discovered a sense of shame somewhere).


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