McConnell may not get his wish on health care vote

The public posturing over whether the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act will receive a vote is now in full swing. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is reportedly interested in making sure senators decide on the bill before July 4th. Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson went on “Meet The Press” today to say, he’s not in favor of the plan. Here’s NBC News’ story on the interview.

“There’s no way we should be voting on this next week. No way,” Johnson told host Chuck Todd. “I have a hard time believing Wisconsin constituents or even myself will have enough time to properly evaluate this, for me to vote for a motion to proceed. So I’ve been encouraging leadership, the White House, anybody I can talk to for quite some time, let’s not rush this process. Let’s have the integrity to show the American people what it is, show them the truth.”…

“What I find so disappointing is these bills aren’t going to fix the problem,” Johnson said Sunday. “They’re not addressing the root cause. They’re doing the same old Washington thing, throwing more money at the problem.”

He also reiterated his belief Obamacare makes things unfair for the people it was allegedly supposed to help, while blaming state governments for causing the markets to collapse.

It would be nice if Johnson explained his idea of tailoring insurance policies for people with pre-existing conditions more fully, but I somehow get the feeling it’s like paying extra for a more valuable car. It’s not a fair comparison, which is why the left has been going after him on the comments, but it’s probably the closest Johnson can come up with in the sound byte world.

Johnson’s comments on not being a “yes vote, yet,” were echoed by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who hit up ABC’s This Week to say the bill won’t do anything. Via ABC News.

“They’ve promised too much. They say they’re going to fix health care and premiums are going to down,” Paul said on ABC News’ “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” of his party’s health care plan unveiled Thursday. “There’s no way the Republican bill brings down premiums.”

As an ophthalmologist with 20 years of experience practicing medicine, Paul argued, “Premiums have never gone down. They’re not going to go down after the Republican bill.”

Paul added, “And it’s a false, sort of over-promising to say, ‘Oh, yes, insurance premiums are going to go down but we’re keeping 10 of the 12 mandates that caused the prices to go up.’ It’s a foolish notion to promise something you can’t provide.”

There are headlines out there claiming Paul is open to voting for a partial repeal of Obamacare. The problem is the headlines are being dishonest about Paul’s full quote. Here it is in its entirety.

“What we can do is if they cannot get 50 votes, if they get to impasse, I’ve been telling leadership for months now I’ll vote for a repeal. And it doesn’t have to be 100 percent repeal. So, for example, I’m for 100 percent repeal, that’s what I want. But if you offer me 90 percent repeal, I’d probably would vote it. I might vote for 80 percent repeal.”

It depends on what’s in an 80 or 90% repeal. Paul’s Obamacare repeal bill from January didn’t touch Medicaid, but that’s such a complicated issue, it probably needs to be handled in a separate bill looking at all of Medicaid.

FreedomWorks, who is backing Johnson and Paul’s criticism of the new health care bill, is getting more specific in their problems with it. Jason Pye believes the Senate bill will end up being another government bailout.

The bill would create a short-term fund to stabilize insurance markets around the country. Between 2018 and 2021, $50 billion would be paid directly to health insurance companies “to address coverage and access disruption and respond to urgent health care needs.” The purposes of the fund aren’t specifically defined…

The concern with this language is that this $50 billion will be used to bail out health insurance companies that participated in ObamaCare or used to encourage to participate in this Republican version of ObamaCare. Claims from insurers for the 2014 and 2015 to the now-defunct risk corridors program established by the 2010 law are somewhere in the ballpark of $8.3 billion. Further losses occurred in 2016.

The risk corridors program was supposed to be funded by plans that made money on the exchanges. The program was underfunded and Congress prohibited the use of taxpayer dollars to fund it. The Better Care Reconciliation Act appears to reverse that course, ostensibly funding a bailout with taxpayer dollars.

Pye also has concerns about Medicaid’s gradual elimination, suggesting it assumes the people who passed the defunding will still be in power. That highlights a major issue when it comes to gradually getting rid of government programs. Whoever follows up the politicians who passed a program, or defunded one, normally have to pick up the pieces. It’s the major issue with Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, etc. The fact Obamacare is going through this same process, is just another example of why the question, “Should the government do X?” should be followed with a resounding, “No!.”

McConnell’s push on getting a vote this week may still happen, so the GOP can keep its promise of “replacing,” Obamacare, while claiming they also repealed it. The push also shows the danger of whenever government tries to do something too quickly or too slowly: the rushed through plan is either so awful it never gets a vote, while the one which is slowly put together normally bogs down in the details. Meanwhile, leadership ignores viable alternative plans which have either not received a vote, let alone a hearing at all, or were passed by Congress and vetoed by a previous president. There shouldn’t be a vote this week on the new health care proposal. There’s also nothing wrong with scrapping the idea completely and starting all over. It might not get things done in the timeline the president wants it, but sometimes, to steal and modify a line from ex-Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington, “That’s the way politics go.”