Back in early May, Senate Republicans decided not to vote on the House-passed health care bill designed to repeal and replace Obamacare. You probably haven’t heard much about the American Health Care Act since then. That’s because GOP Senate leaders have taken it upon themselves to recraft the entire bill—behind closed doors, in virtual secrecy.
Only a small working group of 13 conservative senators have their hands on the newest version of the health bill. “We’ll let you see the bill when we finally release it,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), NBC News reports.
According to the Associated Press, even President Trump called the House health bill “mean,” and urged Senate Republicans to write a “more generous” version.
Yes, the same Donald Trump who campaigned on a promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act on “Day One.” The same Trump who said in an MSNBC town hall in February 2016, “We're going to have great plans. They're going to be much less expensive and they're going to be much better because the Obama plan is unaffordable and it's a disaster.”
And yes, the same Donald Trump who proceeded to throw GOP leaders a party in the White House’s rose garden to celebrate the House’s passage of the AHCA. “This is a great plan,” Trump said at the time. “I actually think it will get even better…”
This so-called “mean” bill not only isn’t supported by the very person trying to shepherd it along—most of the country is probably against it, as well. According to a New York Times study, there is not even one state that supports the new AHCA. In places like Maine, Alaska, and Ohio, public support for the House health bill is under one-third.
One study the Times pointed to, conducted by American Politics Research, showed that Democrats who supported Obamacare lost an average of about six percentage points when it came time for their reelection votes in 2016. There are currently 15 sitting senators who took hold of their offices by less than that margin. Supporting the AHCA could mean losing their jobs altogether—although GOP politicians tend to overestimate their constituents’ support for conservative health care ideals by around 20 percent.
Even conservative senators left out of the loop are concerned.
“I think it’s being written by someone somewhere, but I’m not aware of who or where,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told NBC News. “If you get a copy of it, will you send me a copy?”
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) told NBC, “Would I have preferred a more open process? The answer is yes.”
Reporter asks what's in Senate health bill, saying public doesn't know.
"Well join the crowd. I'm in the same category," says Orrin Hatch.
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) June 15, 2017
Assuming unanimous opposition from Senate Democrats, the GOP cannot afford to lose even three conservative senators when their hopeful voting date comes by the end of June. The AP reports that Senate Majority Leader McConnell hoped to pass the AHCA before Congress’ Fourth of July recess. If they leave before a vote, Senators could face town halls of angry constituents who may sway them against the House health bill.