Terrific (Something)

#SomethingTerrific | #WhatTheyVotedFor

A reflection of the U.S. Capitol, 17 February 2012.  (Detail of photo by Kevin LaMarque/Reuters)

Heading into the weekend, Roll Call described the Republican health care policy prospect:

House Republicans still hope to vote on their health care overhaul next week, though lawmakers said Friday they may need further changes to scrape together enough votes to pass it.

Backbencher Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ03) hoped to raise his profile with a hardline amendment making the American Health Care Act bill so awful he also sought to exempt Congress from its effects. Most recently, he could be heard declaring himself “open to any good idea that gets us across the line”. Ways and Means Chairman Pat Tiberi (R-OH12) said, quite simply, “I thought we were further along than we were.”

This is a complete enough disaster that as Erin Mershon and Lindsey McPherson walk us through the process, “many members said the reinvigorated process that MacArthur’s amendment kicked off has not yet collapsed”, is what passes for an optimistic outlook.

No, really, everything else is a disaster, and nearly indescribable. With a twenty-two vote margin, there are nineteen known holdouts and a handful apparently expected. The result is a “whip operation … in full swing with a series of late-night meetings and a host of individual member discussions”. New York Republican Tom Reed of the Twenty-Third District used the phrases, “one by one”, and “member by member”, to describe the process. His Empire State colleague Rep. Chris Collins (R-27) explained, “it’s a handful of votes”, as the leadership worked with “individual members”. Yet despite all this, precisely nobody can figure when a vote will happen. “We’re going to vote on something,” said House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC11). “It’s either this or it’ll be a backup Plan B or Plan C.”

Because, naturally, after seven years of failing to offer an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, Republicans just happen to have a plethora of plans lying around?

Meadows gave a broad outline of what the proposals include, referring to policies to make the health insurance “tax credits more accessible to those below 400 percent of poverty” and to ensure the credits are “obviously lowering premiums, the net premiums that people pay.” He also suggested a policy that would center on a state-based high risk pool to “lower premiums even more than what we have proposed.”

Meadows declined to say who was involved in working on it, and said the idea is not yet written in legislative text. He also emphasized that this is not his first preference.

House Republicans do not have a plan B, or C. They have yet, by the sound of it, to actually figure out plan A. That is to say, Republicans still do not have a health care plan.

Then again, neither can that be construed as any assurance they will not be voting this week. They are, after all, Congressional Republicans.


Image note: A reflection of the U.S. Capitol, 17 February 2012. (Detail of photo by Kevin LaMarque/Reuters)

Mershon, Erin and Lindsey McPherson. “GOP May Again Change Health Care Proposal As They Seek Votes”. Roll Call. 28 April 2017.

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