Senate Republicans are currently moving forward with crafting an Obamacare repeal bill that could affect coverage for tens of millions of Americans and overhaul an industry that makes up one-sixth of the economy. But there’s one problem: Almost no one knows what’s in it.
In a stunning break from how Congress normally crafts legislation, including Obamacare, the Senate is conducting its negotiations behind closed doors. The opaque process makes it impossible to evaluate whether there are any significant changes coming to health care.
There are no hearings with health experts, industry leaders, and patient advocacy groups to weigh in where the public can watch their testimony or where Democrats can offer amendments. The Senate’s healthcare legislation remains shrouded in secrecy.
“I think it’s being written, uh, by someone somewhere but I’m not aware of who or where,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, told NBC News. “If you get a copy of it, will you send me a copy?”
Senate Democrats have been blasting Republicans for deliberating the health care bill behind closed doors, saying they’ve only been learning of the ongoing negotiations through media reports.
“Please accept our invitation to sit down together in the old Senate Chamber so we can hear your plans and discuss how to make health care more affordable and accessible in the United States,” Schumer writes in the letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Now, a bipartisan group of governors is calling on the Senate to adopt a bipartisan approach on healthcare while denouncing the ObamaCare repeal bill that passed the House.
“While we certainly agree that reforms need to be made to our nation’s health care system, as Governors from both sides of the political aisle, we feel that true and lasting reforms are best approached by finding common ground in a bipartisan fashion,” the governors wrote in a letter to Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D), Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed the letter.
Kasich and Sandoval are particularly notable for their warning against the current Senate GOP approach, given that senators from their states, Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.), are key votes on the bill.
The Governors are particularly concerned about the bill’s Medicaid provisions.
“We stand ready to work with you and your colleagues to develop a proposal that is fiscally sound and provides quality, affordable coverage for our most vulnerable citizens,” the letter states.