Louise Line: An Update on Health Care
You’ve likely heard the news that last week, Senate Republicans brought their secret health care repeal bill out of the dark backroom it was crafted in somewhere in the Capitol. It is even crueler than the version that passed the House in May.
The Senate repeal bill would wreak havoc for Americans on Medicaid, rural hospitals and other health care providers, families living paycheck to paycheck, and middle class seniors with long-term care needs. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently found that 22 million Americans would lose their health insurance under this bill, including 15 million people losing their coverage as soon as next year. The bill would gut Medicaid and disproportionately impact those in nursing homes.
Premiums and deductibles would be so high that, in CBO’s words, “few low-income people would purchase any plan.” It’s no wonder Republican leaders are trying to jam this bill through Congress as quickly as possible without holding a single hearing.
I’ve gotten your concerned calls, read your letters, postcards, and emails, and I stand with you. Let me be blunt: this bill is a tax cut for billionaires disguised as a health care proposal. And yet, Washington Republicans are continuing to move ahead just to fulfill a political talking point.
Last week, I stood with dozens of nurses, doctors, health care providers, and my colleagues against this proposal. Many of the doctors spoke about the real-life effects this bill would have for millions of patients across the country. The damage, they said, would be irreparable.
I’ve said it all along: a bad process leads to a bad bill and the Republicans’ process has been horrible. This is no way to craft a proposal that impacts one-sixth of our entire economy.
When Congress crafted the Affordable Care Act, the House held 79 bipartisan hearings and markups on health insurance reform in 2009 and 2010. In these bipartisan hearings and markups, House members heard from 181 witnesses from both sides of the aisle, considered 239 amendments, both Democratic and Republican, and accepted 121 amendments. In total, the Senate spent more than 160 hours considering the health reform legislation and the final Senate bill included 147 Republican amendments.
With the Republican bill, it’s been nothing but backrooms and secrecy. I’m proud to have brought the Affordable Care Act to the floor of the House in 2009 as Chairwoman of the Rules Committee. Republican leaders in Congress should work with members of both parties to strengthen this law instead of rushing to fulfill a dangerous political talking point.
Louise M. Slaughter