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We know what they mean

Date: 2017-Jul-25           Author: Barry Shatzman

I have no idea what i'm doing. But don't blame me.

I write about health care policy for Lobby99. I've been writing about health care policy for more than 10 years. I've attended fellowships and spoken with legislators, health care providers, and even one of the architects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). And yet, i have no idea what to write about a Senate vote today that could determine the future of the nation's health care policy.

I'm not the only one. The New York Times ran a story last week with the headline Senate Leaders Press for Health Care Vote, but on Which Bill?.

My confusion didn't start last week. It started when House Republicans proposed their bill to replace Obamacare. It wasn't necessarily what was in the bill. It was that nobody knew what was in it. It was concocted behind closed doors. Then they tweaked it to appeal to more moderate members. Then they tweaked it to appeal to more hard-line conservative members. Then they prepared to vote even before the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had a chance to analyze the potential impacts of it. When they finally voted, the public was given about a day's notice.

It's even worse in the Senate. Republicans there also concocted their version in secret. When it finally came out, the plan was to have a vote in just a week - with a CBO analysis coming somewhere in between. Their version had the same bill number, but a different name. They changed it a few times on the fly.

When it became clear that Republicans didn't have enough support in their own party to pass it, they instead held a procedural vote to merely allow discussion to come up with yet another bill.

By the way, Congressional Republicans aren't the only ones who don't seem to know what they want. Just after the House passed its version of the bill, President Trump called it a "great plan". A few weeks later, he called it "mean".

It's clear that the Republicans' agenda here isn't health care. It's politics.

If they had a vision for health care that would best serve the overwhelming majority of Americans, why draft it in secret? Why not wait to see if the CBO says whether it would help Americans or hurt them? And why be unconcerned about how they change it, just as long as they get enough votes to pass something that a) cuts health care for millions of Americans while returning most of the money saved to those who make more than $200,000 a year and b) doesn't include the word "Obama" in it?

And tell me if i'm wrong, but haven't you been spending days and nights lately worried about what Congress is going to do to, rather than for, our health care concerns? Is this what we want from the people we elect to represent our interests?

So aside from writing to them to tell them we understand and are paying attention, let's stop referring to this as "health care reform" and call it what it really is.


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