Following the lead of the House, a small group of men has been working in secret on the Senate’s version of the American Health Care Bill, not even sharing their work with other Republicans.

Following the lead of the House, a small group of men has been working in secret on the Senate’s version of the American Health Care Bill, not even sharing their work with other Republicans.
Even though very few were told the provisions of this bill, Senator McConnell tried to shame Democrats into supporting it, calling them obstructionists. As the leader of the eight-year “party-of-NO,” who is McConnell kidding?
For political reasons the majority leader is trying to rush this bill through before the Senate’s July 4 recess; he has fast-tracked it, taking it out of their regular order of doing things: no hearings, no committee discussions, no floor debates.
The GOP claims that the current ACA health insurance program is so flawed that it cannot be fixed, although Democrats have offered their help. Republicans have also rebuffed suggestions from expert health professionals:
No. 1: If markets need to be stabilized, why are they not asking for the advice of insurers?
No. 2: If doctors and hospitals complain that medicaid payments are inadequate, how does reducing the money going toward medicaid help?
No. 3: If taking care of patients with preexisting conditions is too costly, how does reducing the insurance risk pool by removing healthy people solve the problem?
Beginning in 2009, Democrats held months of hearings, listening to hospitals, pharmacies, doctors, nurses, and insurance companies before holding extensive debates. The process took over a year, and several Republican ideas and amendments were included in the final product. Even with all the care they took, the bill needs improvement. How can either the House or the Senate expect to have a better bill when they have not bothered to interview any of the stakeholders?
If voting proceeds this week, senators are going to have less than a week to digest, understand and vote on the repeal/replacement of a law that took over a year to create. And, like the House, they may not to wait for the Congressional Budget Office’s assessment of how this law will impact the American people. This is reckless behavior at its best, and total abdication of responsibility to constituents at its worst.
What the President and other Republicans are promising—cheaper, better healthcare for all—is simply not achievable. CHEAPER: There is no way to insure everyone inexpensively unless there is a very large risk pool, which is impossible without a mandate that ALL must purchase insurance, and subsidies for those who cannot afford the premiums and deductibles.  
BETTER: The policies under Obamacare (ACA) are better, although more expensive, than many in the past because insurance companies are required to cover mental health, prescription drugs, maternity care and preventive care. They also must cover people with pre-existing conditions at no extra cost. And annual and lifetime limits are forbidden. Will the new bill include these perks?
Republicans also want to eliminate the taxes on the wealthy, and to reduce medicaid to the poor, shifting those burdens to the states by replacing matching funds with limited block grants, promoting flexibility as a smoke screen. But Americans overwhelmingly oppose cuts to medicaid. It is easy to understand why: Medicaid covers 1/3 of all children, half of all births, and 50 percent of all long term care!  If the burden is shifted to the states, states will have to chose between medicaid and education. That is an impossible choice.
Not only is our personal health important to us as individuals, but the healthcare industry makes up a sixth of our economy. We must not rush something this important. NOW is the time to let your senators know what is important to you.
Instead of sabotage, speed and secrecy, the majority senators should have tried inclusiveness, cooperation and openness. Our health is at stake, not theirs. They have voted themselves wonderful healthcare. If they will not share that with us, then we should demand that they instead participate in our healthcare plans.


Katherine Rhoades writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.