Where Things Stand After 4th of July Recess
TO: Interested Parties
FR: Protect Our Care
RE: 7 Key Facts About The Recess of Rejection for Senate’s Health Care Repeal
DT: July 9, 2017
As Congress returns from its ten day 4th of July recess, it’s clear that the Senate Republican quest to repeal health care ran into a recess of rejection over the 4th of July holiday.
New York Times: G.O.P. Support of Senate Health Repeal Erodes During Break
A week that Senate Republicans had hoped would mobilize conservatives and shore up support for their measure to repeal the Affordable Care Act instead ended with eroding enthusiasm, as usually reliable Republican senators from red states blanched at its impact on rural communities.
With Congress set to return on Monday after a week’s recess, Republican lawmakers are increasingly aware that their seven-year promise to dismantle President Barack Obama’s largest policy achievement is deeply imperiled.
First, a reminder of how we got here. The Senate released its secretly-written plan in late June with the hope of rushing to vote on it by the end of the month without holding a hearing. However, a slew of negative news, including a nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office report that showed the bill would result in 22 million people losing their health coverage, raising costs by 20% and weakening protections for people with pre-existing conditions, caused senators across the spectrum — from Rand Paul to Susan Collins and Dean Heller — to publicly oppose the bill.
Over the last ten days, things have gotten worse for Republican repeal. Americans across the country made their voices heard at town halls, more analyses showed the devastating impacts the bill would have on jobs and the people who helped elect Donald Trump, the repeal bill’s popularity is the worst in more than a generation and the ideological divisions in the Senate Republican Caucus have hardened. All of this led Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to make the stunning admission that Republicans don’t need to pass health care repeal to stabilize the marketplace, they can work with Democrats instead.
Here are the highlights of what you might have missed over recess:
1) Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell admitted they don’t need to repeal health care in order to fix the Affordable Care Act’s Marketplace…
POLITICO: McConnell: If we can’t repeal Obamacare, we’ll fix it
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that if the chamber’s fledgling Republican Obamacare repeal effort falls short, Congress will have to pass a more limited bill to shore up health insurance markets.
“If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement, then some kind of action with regard to the private health insurance market must occur,” McConnell said at a Rotary Club luncheon in Glasgow, Ky., the Associated Press reported. “No action is not an alternative. … We’ve got the insurance markets imploding all over the country, including in this state.”
2) The number of Senators with reservations about the Senate’s health care repeal bill grew…
Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND): “I Do Not Support The Senate Health Care Bill In Its Current Form.” “‘Families in North Dakota and across the country have seen increased premiums and deductibles, as well as limited health care options as a result of Obamacare,’ said Hoeven. ‘Addressing the problems with Obamacare and reforming our health care system will be a process, not one bill. I do not support the Senate health care bill in its current form and am especially concerned by the CBO’s analysis of the bill’s impact on Medicaid. We are meeting with health care leaders from around the state to gather input and continue working on health care reform that provides greater access to health care and more affordable health insurance.’” [Hoeven Statement, 7/6/17]
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS): “I Would Not Vote For The Bill That’s In Front Of The Senate Today.” “Republican Sen. Jerry Moran said Thursday he’s still opposed to the current Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, telling a packed town hall in northwest Kansas that he’s concerned about the bill’s impact on the state’s rural population. ‘What I would say is that I would not vote for the bill that’s in front of the Senate today,’ he told a gaggle of reporters outside after the event, as sweat dripped down his brow on a summer day that got well into the 90s. ‘I’ve outlined broad criteria by which I would judge a bill, and we’ll see if any, if that bill changes in a way that I find satisfactory.’” [CNN, 7/6/17]
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA): “I Do Not Defend The Process. I Don’t. I Just Don’t.” “A town hall meeting held by U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy to talk about flood recovery in Louisiana’s capital city was at times derailed Friday by people trying to pressure the Republican to vote against the Senate GOP’s proposed rewrite of the national health care bill. … ‘I am doing my best to make sure that we continue coverage, care for those with pre-existing conditions, eliminate mandates and lower premiums,’ Cassidy said. Asked about the secrecy with which the bill was pieced together, the senator replied directly: ‘I do not defend the process. I don’t. I just don’t.’” [ABC News, 6/30/17]
3) The American people made their voices heard loud and clear in opposition…
- At parades and protests, GOP lawmakers get earful about health care
Washington Post // David Weigel // July 4
- Senate Republicans Lie Low on the Fourth, or Face Single-Minded Pressure
New York Times // Campbell Robertson, Dave Phillips, Jess Bidgood, Emily Cochrane // July 4
- Republicans opposing GOP health care plan hear from voters during recess
CNN // Ashley Killough // July 5
- Sen. Cassidy finds health care frustration at town hall
Associated Press // July 4
- Protesters Take Rep. Paulsen’s Parade Spot After No-Show
CBS Minnesota // Esme Murphy // July 4
- Ted Cruz gets an earful in McAllen for July 4
Texas Tribune // Patrick Svitek // July 4
- Most GOP senators skip July 4 celebrations amid health-care bill backlash
The Week // July 5
- Voters spent the Fourth of July telling Republicans to keep health care
Salon // Matthew Rozsa // July 5
- Senate Republicans avoid July 4 parades — and their constituents — amid health care debate
Mic // Emily Singer // July 5
- Voters press representatives on health care during July 4 parades
Minnesota Public Radio // Martin Moylan, Marianne Combs // July 4
4) New polling shows that the Senate’s repeal bill is the most unpopular legislation in the past 3 decades…
The Senate Repeal Bill Is The Least Popular Bill In 30 Years. “This is why Senate Republicans are having so much trouble with the health care bill. The Republican health care effort is the most unpopular legislation in three decades — less popular than the Affordable Care Act when it was passed, the widely hated Troubled Asset Relief Program bank bailout bill in 2008, and even President Bill Clinton’s failed health reform effort in the 1990s. That’s the verdict from MIT’s Chris Warshaw, who compiled polling data from the Roper Center on major legislation Congress has passed since 1990.” [Axios, 7/7/16]
5) Growing data shows that even Republican voters don’t want to the Senate Republicans continue their quest for health care repeal…
Washington Post: The dirty little secret of the GOP’s health care push: Not even Republicans are demanding this
- “A new Marist College poll conducted for NPR shows people overall disapprove of the Senate bill 55 percent to 17 percent. And even Republicans and those who approve of Trump are pretty split. The GOP approves only 35–21, and Trump backers approve only 36–28.
- A new Quinnipiac University poll shows just 6 percent strongly approved of the bill, while 46 percent strongly disapprove. Even among Republicans, just 18 percent strongly approved of it, while 11 percent disapproved strongly.
- A new poll conducted for the pro-Obamacare group Save My Care by the Analyst Institute asked whether people would prefer senators who “vote for this bill to keep their promise of repeal” or “vote against this bill because it will cut coverage for millions and increases premiums and deductibles.” Just 48 percent of Republicans say they still want a senator to vote for it; the other 52 percent prefer that they vote against it (27 percent) or don’t know (25 percent).” [Washington Post, 6/28/17]
6) New nonpartisan analysis revealed that the Senate’s health care repeal would cost job and hurt the voters who support President Trump…
Commonwealth Fund: The Senate Repeal Bill Would Mean 1.45 Million Fewer Jobs By 2026. “While the draft BCRA and the AHCA would have similar effects on the number of uninsured Americans, the BCRA would lead to significantly larger job losses and deeper reductions in states’ economies by 2026. A brief spurt in employment would add 753,000 more jobs in 2018, but employment would then deteriorate sharply. By 2026, 1.45 million fewer jobs would exist, compared to levels under the current law. Every state except Hawaii would have fewer jobs and a weaker economy. Employment in health care would be especially hard hit with 919,000 fewer health jobs, but other employment sectors lose jobs too. Gross state products would be $162 billion lower in 2026. States that expanded Medicaid would be especially hard hit.” [Commonwealth Fund, 7/6/17]
LA Times: Kids in pro-Trump rural areas have a lot to lose if GOP rolls back Medicaid [LA Times, 7/3/17]
POLITICO: How health care bill could hurt a program beloved in Trump country [Politico, 7/3/17]
POLITICO: Red-state school leaders vent frustrations with GOP health bill [Politico, 7/3/17]
7) The GOP’s backroom deals and attempts at buyoffs to win over their recalcitrant Members are backfiring…
The Trump administration and Senate Republican Leaders are trying to “buy off” or offer a deal to some reluctant Senators to win over their votes. Money won’t solve the problems created by the bill — for instance, a possible $45 billion dollar fund for opioid treatment falls $140 billion short in meeting the needs of the millions who will lose access to addiction services.
But health experts say their 10-year funding request won’t come close to providing the services needed by untold thousands of opioid abusers who are expected to lose their private health insurance and Medicaid coverage under the GOP legislation. In states like West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania where the opioid epidemic is growing, the potential coverage losses under GOP repeal legislation would aggravate rising overdose and death rates.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito had requested $45 billion over the next 10 years. And it’s way less than the number that opioid advocates say will truly help in addressing the addiction crisis: $190 billion over the next 10 years. The reason that number is so steep is because intravenous drug use creates a whole slew of other health problems, including hepatitis C, HIV, and bacterial endocarditis
Lexington Herald-Leader: GOP plan guts drug treatment
So, they may soften their cuts to Medicaid and private insurance coverage by giving states grants to combat the opioid plague, according to reports dribbling out of a small group of male GOP senators who have been meeting in secret to draft a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Grants are no substitute, however. Grants run out, while insurance is supposed to be there when you need it.
Several Republican Senators seek to add $45 billion over 10 years to compensate for the lost support for mental health and substance use disorder treatment that would result by enacting the House-passed AHCA. Unfortunately, their proposal falls far short of the resources needed to fight this crisis. In fact, it will cost more than $183 billion over ten years to cover the lost coverage opportunities caused by the AHCA and to fight the nation’s opioid epidemic.
Another example is Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) amendment to allow insurers to sell plans without the key protections and other benefits, as long as there are other plans that do have those protections. As Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said, that is “subterfuge” for people with pre-existing conditions.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) On The Cruz Amendment: “There’s A Real Feeling That That’s Subterfuge To Get Around Pre-Existing Conditions.” “Grassley says he’s concerned how Cruz’s amendment might affect people with pre-existing conditions. ‘There’s a real feeling that that’s subterfuge to get around pre-existing conditions,’ says Grassley. ‘If it is subterfuge and it has the effect of annihilating the pre-existing condition requirement that we have in the existing bill, than obviously I would object to that.’” [Iowa Public Radio, 7/5/17]