Following the July 4 recess, the Senate has a lot on their plate – primarily concerning healthcare. But according to Senators Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), the Senate’s healthcare draft plan is “dead,” and a simple repeal of Obamacare is a “non-starter.”
Yesterday, Sen. Cassidy appeared on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace, and naturally he was questioned about the future of healthcare. “We don’t know what the plan is. Clearly, the draft plan is dead. Is the serious rewrite plan dead? I don’t know,” he said during the interview. And he isn’t the only one who’s unsure of what will happen in the coming weeks.
In an interview on CBS, Sen. McCain shared his thoughts as well, mirroring Cassidy’s. He agreed that the rewrite plan is “probably going to be dead,” and he asserted that Republicans should consider starting over and trying harder to work with the Democrats. He wanted to be clear that working with Democrats does not mean that they’ll control it, “It means that they can have amendments considered. And even when they lose, then they’re part of the process. That’s what democracy is supposed to be all about,” he said.
Other Republican members of Congress aren’t too happy with the dysfunction. Namely, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who took to Twitter with his frustrations, claiming that the party should be ashamed and that the Republicans will lose the majority if they can’t come up with a solution. Of course President Trump tweeted about the situation as well, saying, “For years as a ‘civilian,’ I listened as Republicans pushed the Repeal and Replace of ObamaCare. Now they finally have their chance!” But will they succeed?
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that he will be introducing a new bill to replace much of the Affordable Care Act. If that plan fails, he said he would consider a “smaller bill with quick help for insurers and consumers and negotiate with Democrats,” according to Fox News.
There are others who have come up with their own ideas for reform. Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) plan serves to lower premiums for healthy people, and it’s gotten a decent amount of support from both the White House and the House of Representatives. Predictably, however, Cruz’s plan has some opposition from Democrats and moderate Republicans, although Cruz has dismissed their argument claiming that it’s a “hoax” initiated by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), another opponent of the initial healthcare draft, has a proposal, as well. According to a letter he wrote to Sen. McConnell, his plan is to “allow any individual, including self-employed individuals, to form associations for the purpose of purchasing group health insurance.” In other words, individuals could obtain their health insurance through a group other than their family or their employer or the government – something like their church. This way, people wouldn’t have to worry about getting a new plan if they leave their job, and they could be sure to have a health insurance plan that aligns with their religious values. Whether or not Sen. Paul’s plan will even be considered is still questionable, though, and it’s likely to have considerable opposition – though health insurance coverage through voluntary associations is an idea which used to be very common in the days before FDR-era government regulation and tax policy created our current unwieldy system.
At the end of the day, we’re still left with the same question: what is going to happen with America’s healthcare system? It’s disappointing that for several years Republicans have preached about repealing Obamacare, yet now that they are given the chance to do so, the party seems more divided than ever. Sen. Cruz pointed out, “we’ve got to honor the promise we made to the voters that millions of Americans are hurting under Obamacare … In my view, failure is not an option.” But the lack of progress leaves many concerned.
President Trump will likely urge Congress to get something done, before the August recess, but we won’t hold our breath.