Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the policy that is meant to replace former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The onus is now on the Republican-led Senate to pass a version of that act that can be reconciled with the House document.
As The Washington Post points out, Republican Senators are employing unprecedented secrecy around the bill, keeping the text hidden from the full body and the public as it races to a vote before Congress adjourns for recess ahead of the Fourth of July. The results of a CBS News poll released yesterday (June 20) shows that 73 percent of those asked think that the bill should be discussed publicly—including 56 percent of Republican voters.
The senators responsible say they will finally release the bill to the public tomorrow (June 21). Here’s what we know about the bill in the meantime:
It’s being written by 13 men.
As The New York Times reports, the working group that is creating the legislation contains only White, conservative men. Among those left out of the room where it happens: Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), the only Black Republican senator; and Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) who have previously split with their party with regard to health care for women.
The GOP is crafting policy on an issue that directly impacts women without including a single woman in the process. It’s wrong. https://t.co/digJ8qXKr2
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) May 6, 2017
Senate Democrats are trying to slow it down…
Last night (June 19) several senators took to the floor to deliver speeches meant to slow down the process.
“If Republicans are not going to allow debate on their bill on the floor or in committee, Democrats will make opportunities to debate,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor, per NPR. “And these are merely the first steps we’re prepared to take in order to shine a light on the shameful Trumpcare bill and reveal to the public the GOP’s backroom deal-making.”
WOW: @SenateMajLdr blatantly refuses to give senators more than 10 hours to read & amend Obamacare repeal bill (that we have yet to see!) pic.twitter.com/0rToMLll3g
— CAP Action (@CAPAction) June 19, 2017
…But Republicans can pass it alone.
President Donald Trump’s party has a 52-person majority in the Senate. Two GOP members could defect, and Senate Republicans could still get the bill through without support from a single Democrat.
It doesn’t have a score from the Congressional Budget Office.
The nonpartisan group didn’t have the opportunity to analyze the House version of the bill until after it was passed, and it looks like it will have little time to review this one as well. The CBO estimated that 23 million people will lose health insurance coverage under the AHCA. Voters will have no idea about this one until the working group decides to share it with the CBO.
The top health guy in the Trump Administration hasn’t even seen it.
In a hearing on June 15, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price admitted that has not seen the text of the bill. As ThinkProgress reports, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) asked Price, “Have you or anyone in your department seen what the Senate Republicans are working on in terms of their version of Trumpcare?” Price said that, “I haven’t seen any legislative language.”
This is rather stunning. @SecPriceMD tells @SenatorDurbin he hasn’t seen the Senate GOP health care bill either.
— Matt House (@mattwhouse) June 15, 2017
It might cut Medicaid even more than the House version.
The Washington Post reports that the Senate bill will take more money from the program. According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, there are more than 34 million non-elderly people of color who depend on Medicaid for health care.
Advocacy groups are organizing to fight it.
Progressive nonprofit Center for American Progress Action Fund has created the Trumpcare Toolkit, which is aimed at making it easy to call, fax or tweet Republican senators—or connect users with friends who live in Republican-controlled states so they can reach out. And Resistbot helps users connect with their Congress members via text.