Update (11:11 PM EST): This bill could pass... and become law
It's approaching midnight and the latest version of Trumpcare—just introduced (pdf)—is now closer than any previous version of becoming an actual bill that has enough Republican votes to pass both the Senate and the House.
The Republicans in U.S. Senate finally released their so-called "skinny bill" to repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) late Thursday night and even though it's passage is still not assured, the details of it were as sinister as many had feared and warned. "The GOP 'skinny bill' is here," tweeted Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) just before 11pm on the east coast, "and it’s exactly as wretched as we thought it'd be."
The Huffington Post reports:
Senate Republicans on Thursday night finally introduced the bill they have been discussing for days ― a bill that would strike the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, but drop other proposals like deep cuts to Medicaid that have divided the GOP caucus.
Senate leaders said they were on track for a vote in the wee hours of Friday morning. They believed they were close to the 50 votes they needed to pass it.
And according to a breakdown by Axios, this is what the bill would do:
- Repeal the individual mandate
- Repeal the employer mandate
- Delay the ACA's tax on medical devices
- Cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood
- Expand an ACA waiver program so that states could roll back some of the law's regulations and benefit mandates.
- Repeal the ACA's fund for public health programs
- Provide more funding for community health centers
"The Senate is still expected to enter a prolonged "vote-a-rama" later tonight," reports Axios, "which will likely last well into Friday morning. Several Senate Republicans have said they do not want this bill to become law, but might vote for it anyway to open up a new round of negotiations with the House."
Said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as the details finally emerged:
How are you improving health care when you throw 16 million people off health insurance and raise premiums 20% every single year?
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) July 28, 2017
And Sen. Elizabeth Warren responded with a short video and outrage in response to what she called the "wretched" bill:
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) July 28, 2017
The #Trumpcare resistance movement was also swift in its condemnation as many urged people to mobilize and for constituents to "not forget" how their senators vote:
This is prognosis for just next year. 16 million. Many of those who'd lose health care will be asleep, won't know vote is happening tonight. https://t.co/eSzbGSN43m
— Our Revolution (@OurRevolution) July 28, 2017
— Women's March (@womensmarch) July 28, 2017
— MoveOn.org (@MoveOn) July 28, 2017
Many others noted the timing as significant:
After 7 years, with no hearings, no Dem input, & minutes of debate, they'll vote literally at midnight to tank our health care system. https://t.co/6eqUikFKzL
— Ezra Levin (@ezralevin) July 28, 2017
Senate Republicans are embarrassed by #SkinnyRepeal bill & they should be. Perhaps that is why they're trying to pass it in dead of night.
— Senator Jack Reed (@SenJackReed) July 28, 2017
"If the people who wrote this bill were proud of it, they wouldn’t be forcing this vote in the dead of night." -- Mitch McConnell, 2009
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With the latest reports on Thursday suggesting Republicans in the Senate are going to finalize the details of their so-called "skinny repeal" bill at a lunchtime meeting, opponents of the effort are decrying the bill as a "Trojan Horse" and "humanitarian catastrophe" that would strip healthcare coverage from millions of people while inflicting untold damage on the nation's sick and vulnerable.
— WorkingFamiliesParty (@WorkingFamilies) July 27, 2017
As groups at the forefront of the Trumpcare resistance effort urged members and constituents to jack up pressure on GOP lawmakers, a new analysis from the Congressional Budget Office released Wednesday found that even a scaled-back version of repeal would result in an estimated 16 million people losing their insurance and increase the average premium by more than $1,200 annually—more than 20 percent.
"If your Senator is saying they're voting for Skinny Repeal to get to Conference, they're lying. Whatever passes Senate will pass House," declared Angel Padilla, policy director for Indivisible, in a Thursday monring tweet.
"Today's vote must be called what it is—an effort to strip care from millions and make health care worse for everyone, and a bill that could easily become law without alteration." —Ben Wikler, MoveOn
"Many in the media and elsewhere," warned MoveOn.org's Ben Wikler, "are mistakenly treating this bill as a procedural vote—an effort to simply to advance the process to a conference committee, in which the substance is irrelevant. In truth, if this bill passes the Senate, the House could simply pass the same bill. Senators who vote for this repeal legislation are endorsing its consequences, and will be held responsible."
Both the contents of the bill and the strategic thinking behind it matter, added Wikler. "Today's vote must be called what it is—an effort to strip care from millions and make health care worse for everyone, and a bill that could easily become law without alteration. MoveOn members are committed to holding every senator who votes for a such a bill accountable at the ballot box, regardless of whether the bill fails in the Senate, advances to conference committee, or—as is entirely possible if it passes the Senate—is rubber stamped by the House and sent to the president’s desk."
On floor of the Senate on Wednesday, both Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Ron Wyden (D-Or.) ran through the "most egregious" aspects of the bill they said would be a disaster for the American people:
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) July 26, 2017
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) was among those warning that there's nothing "skinny" about what the Republicans will put forth later on Thursday.
Don't fall for GOP calling this "skinny repeal". 18M people losing insurance in one year isn't "skinny", it's a "humanitarian catastrophe." https://t.co/FIa3QYc4dn
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) July 27, 2017
Meanwhile, Robert Greenstein, founder and president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, explained in a detailed blog post how the "skinny bill" would "cause tens of millions of people to lose their health coverage and millions more to pay much more, get skimpier coverage, or both." The bill is rightly be called a "Trojan Horse," he added—one that would do tremendous damage by itself but also allow for deeper cuts to Medicaid and a broader attack on healthcare protections contained in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the future. According to Greenstein:
No one should be fooled. As Senate Republican leaders have made clear, their goal in advancing the "skinny repeal" is simply to pass something that will advance health legislation to a conference with the House, which passed its own repeal-and-replace bill in May. That way, a House-Senate conference committee could produce a modified version of repeal-and-replace legislation for final votes in the House and Senate this fall.
GOP leaders would craft that version behind closed doors during Congress’ August recess and in early September. They would then present it to the House and Senate for final votes later in September, with limited debate and no amendments allowed — and with GOP leaders applying maximum pressure on Republican senators and House members to fall in line.
Ezra Levin, co-founder of Indivisible, which has led the grassroots mobilization against the Republican effort to pass Trumpcare, echoed those warnings:
— Ezra Levin (@ezralevin) July 27, 2017