After weeks gestating in locked rooms, the Senate’s health care bill was finally made public on Thursday—and it’s just as reprehensible as it has long been expected to be. In key respects it resembles the House’s draconian bill: It ends the individual mandate; includes catastrophic slashes to Medicaid, which would wreak havoc on the elderly, the disabled, and the poor; and creates conditions so that everyone who is not wealthy will pay substantially more for substantially less coverage.
At least three Republicans are expected to come out in opposition to the current version of this bill. But the bill that they’re opposing is far from final. In fact, the draft that is circulating on Thursday is designed to be amended.
In other words, the intraparty drama that we can expect to see over the coming days will be very likely by design. This way, the many senators who express reservations about the contents of the bill—particularly in the way it handles the phasing out of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, the opioid crisis, and funding for Planned Parenthood—can demand revisions, declare victory when those revisions are made, and then fall in line.
This is all kabuki. Making changes will allow Republicans to claim their bill is more moderate, even though all signs point to the fact that the changes have already essentially been baked into the process. They’ll allow Republicans to focus attention on individual provisions instead of the bill’s overall effect, which will be disastrous.
Just keep in mind that what matters isn’t the pace at which Republicans roll back Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion; what matters is that they’re slashing Medicaid coverage by $800 billion to effect a massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich. What matters isn’t that this bill doesn’t currently allocate funding to fight the opioid crisis; what matters is that it is perpetuating the causes of that crisis by declaring war on poor Americans. What matters isn’t a particular amendment, but that the GOP’s health care bill is a nightmare.