[guest post by Dana]
During interview with Sen. Ted Cruz over at the Daily Wire this week, Ben Shapiro asked Cruz about the GOP’s health care bill:
SHAPIRO: If the Senate rubber stamped the House bill, would you support it, given that the House bill didn’t actually repeal Obamacare in many crucial ways?
CRUZ: The first version of the House bill was very problematic and there were many issues with it – first and foremost, that it didn’t do nearly enough to drive down premiums. I think the House Freedom Caucus improved the bill significantly. They focused quite rightly on the need to drive down premiums. The Senate needs to go much further than the House Bill. We need to improve it significantly more. I don’t know if the Senate will do so or not. It is what I have been working day and night, practically every waking hour for he last five months to do: bring senators together to get that done.
SHAPIRO: Are you worried that Republicans will pass a bill that doesn’t repeal Obamacare, declare victory, then watch as premiums skyrocket and the free market is blamed for what is essentially a continuation of a heavily government-regulated Obamacare system?
CRUZ: There are two bad outcomes that are possible. One bad outcome is that we fail to repeal Obamacare – we fail to pass any bill at all. For the past seven years we’ve campaigned promising the voter that we would repeal the disaster that is Obamacare, that has cost millions of Americans their jobs, thrown them into part-time jobs, cost them their doctors, caused premiums to skyrocket. If we fail to deliver after being given every branch of government, that’s profoundly harmful both as a substantive matter of policy but also as a political matter. The credibility of Republicans would be deeply, deeply undermined.
There’s a second outcome that’s even worse than that. We pass a bill titled “Obamacare Repeal,” but doesn’t in fact repeal Obamacare — in fact expands it. We hold a press conference patting ourselves on the back, claiming to have repealed it. And then next year, premiums continue to skyrocket and it’s demonstrated that what Republicans said isn’t true. I think that has even greater policy harms and political harms. So I’m trying to avoid both of those. I’m trying to get Republicans in the Senate and the House and the President and the Vice President to do what we said we would do. That’s what I’m urging all the players to do.
This morning, the GOP’s Senate repeal plan was released. You can read it here. You can also read Mitch McConnell’s discussion draft here.
As Allahpundit commented :
McConnell’s team put out a fact sheet this morning detailing their major changes to ObamaCare — or non-changes, I should say. Yeah, the mandate’s gone and there’s a massive (delayed) rollback of Medicaid, but the premium subsidies are still there, they’re still pegged to income, and there’s a bunch of new money ($25 billion) appropriated to stabilize ObamaCare’s rickety exchanges over the next four years. There’s also money set aside for two years of cost-sharing subsidies, which the House GOP has spent three years fighting in court on grounds that they never appropriated those funds in the first place. In other words, in at least one respect, the Senate bill is … an expansion of ObamaCare.
All in all, the bill’s a jumble of provisions designed to shore up the current law and, bizarrely, to make it less sustainable. With the mandate gone, many O-Care taxes repealed, and the cost-sharing subsidies marked for phase-out in 2019, much of the revenue needed to keep the exchanges buoyant is set to disappear over the next few years.
A vote on the bill is set for next Thursday. The CBO plans to release estimates for the Senate health care bill next week. And some senators are expressing concerns that there may not be enough time to fully process the bill before next week’s scheduled vote.
Here are a few quick reactions from conservatives to the bill’s release this morning:
SEN. RAND PAUL (Kentucky): “Conservatives have always been for repealing Obamacare, and my concern is that this doesn’t repeal Obamacare,” he said as he was walking back to his office through the Capitol tunnel.
“What I’m seeing so far is it keeps 10 out of 12 regulations, it continues the Obamacare subsidies, and I think ultimately will not bring down premiums,” he continued, “because instead of trying to fix the death spiral of Obamacare, it simply subsidizes it with taxpayer money to insurance companies.”
SEN. RON JOHNSON (Wisconsin): “The primary driver of premium increases is guaranteed issue,” he told reporters, referring to the ACA provision that bars insurers from rejecting customers. “Who would buy auto insurance if you could buy insurance after you’ve crashed your car?” Johnson said. “Well, that’s the exact same reason that guaranteed issue, when it’s been passed in states, is collapsing insurance markets, is collapsing the Obamacare market.” He would prefer that people with pre-existing conditions be taken care of through high-risk pools.
Further, here is an interesting look at the senators who have concerns about the bill, and some who may be considering voting “no”.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)