The Senate version of the “Repeal and Replace” Affordable Health Care Bill (Obamacare) did not have the votes needed to pass in the Senate. There are 52 Republican Senators and 48 others; 46 Democrats and two independents who vote with the Democrats. Any passing bill needs at least 50% of the 100 votes to pass. A number of Republicans and all Democrats oppose it.
To date the House of Representatives has passed a Draconian replacement bill for Obamacare which transfers a good part of the money spent on healthcare to tax reduction for the upper two percent and for essentially large corporations and massively increases the amounts that Obamacare recipients will have to pay. It took the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, two tries to pass this bill and even then some Republicans opposed it.
The Senate, behind closed doors, with a small select committee of senior male Caucasian Senators, developed its version of the replacement and tax cut bill. This document achieved immediate objection from both Democrats and some Republicans. It was modified and still did not have enough Republican votes for it to pass. The Senate left for its July 4th Recess without taking any action.
On Friday, June 30, 2017, it was suggested by Senator Ben Sasse, the Junior Republican Senator from Nebraska, working with President Trump, that the Senate, as soon as it comes back from its holiday Recess, repeals Obamacare and replaces it later. This plan actually emerged from a Koch Brothers Think Tank. Just prior to July 4th President Trump strongly supported this plan. So far the Recess is over and nothing has happened in the Senate.
It seems that basically Trump is always more interested in winning, in getting his way, than it keeping his word. As a candidate he promised his constituents that they would have more and better medical care under his presidency than they currently had and that it would cost them less money. He currently seems to support the opposite position.
If this were to be done, and a bill were passed in the Senate, it would be done, in all probability, in stages with Affordable Health Care gradually being done away with. The Senate bill would require that at some point in the near future the replacement bill was to come into being. The problem with this type of legislation is that it makes future assumptions that may not come to pass. Several years ago, in 2013 under the Obama Presidency, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, where all money bills have to begin, wanted to reduce government spending. It could not make the entitlement cuts it wanted. Subsequently a bill was passed into law in that year that said cuts would be made at a specific future point or all government spending programs would be reduced at that time and yearly thereafter. This bill was called The Sequester. When that point of time was reached no tax cut law had come about and The Sequester operated from that point on. It took special legislation to properly fund the military after the automatic cuts came into being.
If the effect of this bill was instantaneous the implication of this action, repealing now and replacing later, would be devastating upon the 22 plus million American citizens who currently have Affordable Health Care. In all probability, if the Senate were capable of doing this, the next step would be immediate Tax Reform which would be to significantly reduce taxes for the upper two percent of the population and the large corporations. The effect of the two acts would be devastating upon the Aged, the dependent young, and the general population of the United States.
First off: a large proportion of these people cannot afford any kind of medical coverage on their own. A fair percentage of them are receiving crucial treatments that keep them alive. These would stop immediately; and so would many of their lives. The others would mostly survive, but not well. Paying many rural and some urban hospitals would cease or decrease significantly causing a large number of them to shut down permanently. In addition payments to Planned Parenthood would decrease when the government stopped contributing to them. Essentially poor women, who cannot afford medical care, would lose the care they have ending breast cancer and other vital tests for these people and causing a significant increase in their rates of series illness. Among other things the overall death rate would greatly increase. And this does not even consider what will happen to young children who do not receive any medical care.
The overall effect of this besides the increase in the death and untreated illness rate will be to lower the overall Gross Domestic Product; the GDP, the level of wealth produced in the United States. Spent money has a velocity; it is spent three to twelve times. It has a volatility in terms of increasing productivity. Money withdrawn from the overall cash flow has the opposite effect. Every dollar withdrawn reduces the GDP by three to twelve dollars, shrinking productivity and employment. The sudden withdrawal of these billions of dollars will cause an instant decrease in goods and services in billions to trillions of dollars.
The irony of this is that a large percentage of the people who would be affected are those who voted for Trump. For example, West Virginia would become a desolate state with the government financially incapable of helping their citizens to even survive. This is also true for a number of other states that strongly supported Trump in the Presidential Election.
If by some strange miracle this bill were passed in the Senate and the House of Representatives also passed an identical bill the taxes of President Trump and the members of his Cabinet’s taxes would be greatly reduced in a shrinking depressed economy. The upper two percent and the large corporations would be paying less in taxes but their earnings would in all likelihood quickly become less than they are now. Trump’s hotels would have to decrease their room or suite prices and his cohorts would end-up earning less than they are now for similar reasons. In essence it would be an instant depression, everybody would be hurting. And this includes the upper two percent and the large corporations.
On Saturday, June 30th, Mitch McConnell, speaking in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, stated that he would not present a “Repeal Now, Replace Later” bill in the Senate. Will he keep his word? That’s unknown. It all depends upon what is happening in the overall society.
Also if the Senate is finally able to pass some sort of repeal and replace bill it will in all probability be different from that of the House. This will mean a Conference Committee consisting of members of both Houses of Congress. The House of Representatives had problems passing the bill that a majority of Republicans there agreed upon. If they later have to compromise upon their bill and the Senate’s bill the process may become impossible. It took great effort on Paul Ryan’s part to bring in the far right, the so-called Freedom Caucus. Also the entire House of Representatives is coming up for reelection in November of 2018. The probability is that the Conference Committee will not be able to come out with a compromise and the bill will die in committee. We may not officially know this until the end of 2017 shortly before in Midterm Election..
In addition, in order to get a majority vote, McConnell may have to compromise with the Democrats in the Senate. This could produce fascinating results. The majority of Democrats currently seem to be supporting a single payer system; that would be the Federal government, which would drop the cost of the middlemen in Healthcare.
Affordable Health Care premiums seem to be rising significantly at this time. There are numerous reasons for this but perhaps the most significant one is the fact that the insurance industry has no idea what the immediate future of Health Care will be. Ordinarily the Insurance Companies have people, actuaries, who can predict generally what will affect them during the coming year and on the basis of these presumptions, with a strong safety factor added, the coming year’s premiums are worked out. But with what is or is not currently happening and not happening with the Republicans in Congress this process is impossible. Consequently the experts in the insurance companies are projecting the highest possible increase in order to protect their companies in this period of mass confusion.
As long as Congress is about to act the madness persists. And Congress has been about to act since January 20, 2017, when Donald Trump became President of the United States and a new Republican dominated Congress came into being. It took the House of Representatives two tries to finally pass a Draconian health bill which would wipe out Affordable Health Care after seven years of existence, give the wealthy a massive tax cut, and introduce a new form of voluntary health care which most people currently on Obamacare could not afford. Here much of what the Federal Government spent on Affordable Health Care would have to be paid by the recipients of the plan. This, if it became law, would remove nineteen million people from any type of health insurance.
To date the Senate Republicans have not been able to get any type of plan passed. Obamacare, with ever-rising premiums, remains in existence. In fact it has become far more popular since Trump assumed office. To many people it has become a life and death issue and they have dramatically let their congressmen know this.
What happens now? Has Congress reached a point of total non-functionality with nothing happening or will they come up with a bill both Houses of Congress can agree upon? If they do how will this affect the American people?
Currently Chuck Schumer has sent a message to President Trump to call a summit of all 100 Senators to work on a bill. To date Trump has ignored this.