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July 27, 2017

What if The Senate Really Debated Healthcare?

They do have an opportunity.

Thanks to John McCain’s typical bravery, the Senate has taken up the bill passed by the House and IS technically debating healthcare. This debate is a good thing. Who pays for healthcare (which is what this “debate” is actually about) is obviously an important issue. It certainly wasn’t solved for all time by the Democrat’s partisan imposition of ObamaCare; it won’t be solved by rolling the clock back to preObamaCare. Congress is supposed to debate before making policy. The debate is open to both Republicans and Democrats. It’s a slim, slim hope but maybe something good will come from this discussion.

The alternative would be no discussion at all. Many Senators on both sides of the aisle would have preferred no debate because they would have been spared from having to create a record of their votes on amendments. For some reason most of the “resistance” is also against having a debate in the Senate even to the point of vilifying McCain for his vote to allow debate. Frankly, I don’t get it. You’re against an imperial presidency (so am I) but you don’t want the legislature to do the job we elected them to do. Doesn’t compute.

Yes, I’m being a Pollyanna; but there is an opportunity for the actual bipartisan compromise and legislation John McCain pleaded for in his speech. Whether this happens or not is up to both Republicans and Democrats. For example, a Democrat can offer an amendment to the House Bill which solves some of the obvious problems with ObamaCare (like spending being on an unsustainable growth path) while preserving some of its benefits. Republicans might vote for that, especially if the Senate can avoid debating whether it is fixing or replacing ObamaCare and just concentrate on what affects people. A Republican can propose a phasedown of the absurdity of Medicaid with absolutely no limits while providing some funding so the exchanges can function with certainty. Will all Democrats vote against that? I hope not.

If anything passes the Senate, it’s got to go to committee with the House and be accepted there in some form. Tough problem but all House members are up for reelection next year. If a bill passes the House and Senate, it still needs a Presidential signature. I’m the last person to think Trump is predictable; but good chance he’d like to claim a victory (which is NOT a reason NOT to pass a bill).

The reality is that the status quo is not sustainable. Democrats know that the exchanges will simply implode without more funding and that funding isn’t going to happen without Republican votes. Republicans know now (if they didn’t before) that they will be blamed if healthcare funding collapses. Perfection won’t happen; progress can.

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