Editorials

Secrecy surrounding healthcare bill makes us sick

Miami Herald Editorial Board

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, flanked by Sen. John Barrasso, left, and Majority Whip John Cornyn, talk to reporters this month about their healthcare bill.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, flanked by Sen. John Barrasso, left, and Majority Whip John Cornyn, talk to reporters this month about their healthcare bill. AP

Here’s the one thing Americans know for sure about the Senate Republicans’ Obamacare replacement bill: Millions of them — make that tens of millions of them — will lose health insurance. Insurance that helped them get preventive care, surgery, cancer treatment. Care in spite of pre-existing conditions. Care that kept minor conditions from getting worse — and more expensive to treat. Care that didn’t bankrupt a family. Care that, despite the overheated GOP rhetoric blasting the Affordable Care Act, level-headed Republican governors provided for their state’s residents.

Whatever else is in the bill, however, is anyone’s guess. Republican leaders in the Senate are deciding how deeply they will disrupt the lives of their constituents in secret. Turns out, arrogance and cowardice are simply two sides of the same coin.

Look, we’ve been dealing with this issue for seven years,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. “It’s not a new thing.”

We agree with McConnell that the GOP’s most fervent quest, to wipe the Affordable Care Act off the face of the Earth, is not a “new thing.” But “dealing with this issue,” thoughtfully, openly, transparently, and with the input of a variety of healthcare experts, industry professionals and consumers? No.

But for seven years, Republicans’ strategy has been one of casting dozens of grandstanding votes to repeal the ACA, bellicose sky-is-falling rhetoric and no way forward. Until now.

Not only have Senate leaders shut out most concerned stakeholders, they’re leaving their the majority of their Senate colleagues in the dark, too. Not even Health and Human Service Secretary Tom Price has seen the bill.

And information blackout stands to get worse if McConnell & Co. follow through with plans to fast-track this bill once it sees the light of day. The expedited process will prevent any chance of a filibuster by the Democrats; it avoids the committee process where other members of the chamber have a chance to vet proposed legislation. In fact, the bill, mercifully, will be scored by the Congressional Budget Office — the one glimmer of common sense that Senate leaders have shown here — then go directly to the Senate floor for a vote — no committee process, no public hearing.

That’s the plan, and it’s an outrageously bad one. The question now is: When will aggrieved Senate colleagues, both Republican and Democrat, join forces and push back? It’s time for them to call it loud and clear what this really is: a Senate con job of monumental proportions. When will they find their voices for their constituents, the ones in states both red and blue who will be left without Medicaid or shut out because of a preexisting condition?

Treacherous Senate leaders hope to have this all wrapped up by the July Fourth holiday. It should go down in spectacular flames by then.

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