The health care bill passed by the House of Representatives—known as the AHCA—has a 21% approval rating. Two reasons behind its unpopularity are its utter decimation of Medicaid expansions, and allowing states to waive the requirement that limits premiums for people with preexisting conditions—effectively eliminating coverage by making it utterly unaffordable. 75% of Americans believe that is a bad idea. So politically, it should come as no surprise that the Republicans in Congress are trying to conduct as little of this in the public view as possible.
Morally, it’s reprehensible to pass a bill that pretty much guarantees that a significant amount of people will die; either by stripping away their health insurance, or making it completely unaffordable. But morals went out the window a long time ago with our most established residents of Congress. That part of their brain was replaced by a chip that gives K Street lobbyists unilateral control over their thoughts, emotions, and in an emergency, their entire bodily faculties. This uncomfortable truth is embodied in the Senate, as they have taken an unpopular bill being constructed in the shadows and moved it into a veritable black hole.
Thirteen Senate Republicans—all men—are creating a version of the AHCA that will radically change 1/6 of our economy, and they have done everything within their power to hide the facts of the bill not only from the American public, but their own colleagues—as John McCain told Bloomberg that he has yet to see the health care bill and “nor have I met any American that has. I’m sure the Russians have been able to hack in and gotten most of it.”
Despite the fact that most Republicans have yet to see what is in the bill, Republican leadership is flying ahead at warp speed trying to get one of the most unpopular bills in American history passed.
We received additional information today on what exactly is in the bill, and it actually increases the level of deregulation from the House's version of the AHCA.
What makes this so hypocritical is that the Republicans are remaking the health care industry without proposing a health care bill. The AHCA is a budget bill cynically designated as such because this allows the Republicans to pass it with a simple majority. They are not seeking to reform our health care system, but to remake it in their donors' own image, and the 79% of the country who disapproves has no say in the matter. If this were an earnest attempt to reform health care, they would pass a real health care fix that is subject to the filibuster—ensuring that all our elected representatives get a say in one of the most consequential pieces of legislation of our time. This process is so secretive that Republicans cannot even muster a real defense as to why they are throttling this bill through Congress, preferring to tuck their tails between their legs and run away rather than engage their peers in constructive debate.
This is evil. The CBO calculated that premiums for seniors making less than $26,500 would go up by at least 800%. That's a death sentence. Medicaid could lose up to $900 billion over the next decade. This is an all-out assault on the poorest and most vulnerable amongst us, and for what?
Republicans in Congress are sentencing poor sick people to extreme financial hardship and/or death, all so they can give yet another tax cut to the people who have captured 85% of all new income created since 2009. Republican leadership is attempting to stage a heist, hoping that we won’t notice in time, and it may work. If you care about health care (and if you are breathing right now, you should), call your representatives and let them know that this is unacceptable. If the Republicans are going to ram a historically unpopular law down our throats, they should at least have the guts to do it to our faces.
Call your Senators. It takes 10 seconds to find out who they are and 10 minutes to complete the call. Do this as many times as you can between now and Thursday, June 29th when the GOP wants to hold the vote. If we don’t demonstrate to Congress now that public opinion polling has tangible consequences prior to an election, then they will never have any reason to listen to us again.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.