Here we go again.
Last night, the announcement came through: four GOP senators are now “no” votes on a motion to proceed with the BCRA – the Senate’s version of the repeal-and-replace bill. The bill would not make it to the floor, let alone through passage.
The 80%+ Americans who didn’t want that bill to succeed were thrilled; an air of celebration streaked across my Twitter timeline and my FB groups.
This morning, the feeling of trepidation that kept me from enjoying the celebratory mood turned out to be justified: the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has given his approval of the 2015 ACA repeal bill. That bill, which passed both houses of Congress in 2015, repeals Obamacare – but with no replacement. At the time, the CBO scored the bill as meaning 32M people would lose their insurance while premiums would rise by 100%. The bill delayed the repeal, and if implemented now would end up taking effect after the 2018 elections.
It’s worth reading @IndivisbleTeam’s Twitter on why this is bad, but the short version: If this bill is passed as part of the current reconciliation effort, it would be possible for GOP leadership to completely replace the AHCA with language from the repeal-only bill. When the 2015 bill passed (on party lines), the GOP had a President who would veto it and no veto-proof majority. Now, we can be sure 45 will sign the bill – he called for full repeal directly on Twitter after the bill’s defeat.
So what’s the problem? The old bill is WORSE than the bill that just failed.
But here’s the thing: if you’re represented by a Republican, odds are (and are high) that they already voted for this bill.
That means that standing up against it this time around – the right thing to do, given the bill’s failings and the GOP’s proven failure to create a new, viable healthcare plan – means walking back their votes from the last congress. It means going to voters and explaining what’s changed their mind. In some cases, it may require a break with GOP leadership’s tribe, and a willingness to admit that their original vote was wrong. Maybe some will try; will it be enough? How many voters will hear “repeal” and, exhausted, think that’s what they’ve wanted all along?
There’s no time or room for complacency in this project; as Americans who care about our neighbors around the country, we can’t afford to let up the pressure.
Keep calling your members of Congress. Tell them you want them to reform and improve the ACA with bipartisan support and open debate. Tell them if they vote yea for McConnell’s latest strategy, you will vote them out in November 2018. And then follow through.
EDIT: This article from NBC News gives some more details.
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