Tuesday, May 16, 2017

McConnell says all Senate Republicans are working on health bill, invites Democrats to join them

McConnell used a graphic on the floor to drive home his point.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that all Republican senators are working on a health bill, and invited Democrats to help them.

“Can our Democratic colleagues, who promised more choice under Obamacare, really be okay with the continuing failures of Obamacare? The status quo under Obamacare is simply unsustainable and unacceptable,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor. “That’s why the entire Senate Republican Conference is working together on the best way forward to bring much-needed relief to the families who’ve been left behind by Obamacare’s continuing failures. I hope our Democratic colleagues will join us in working to do so. They just sent me a letter last week where they acknowledged that Obamacare hasn’t lived up to its promises and where they effectively conceded that the status quo is unsustainable.”

McConnell recently appointed a working group of 13 Republican senators to work on a health bill and was criticized because they were all men. Since then, he has said no senator will be left out of the drafting process. Last week Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville said McConnell wouldn't let a health bill come to a vote before the 2018 elections for fear of political damage.

Click on the chart to view a larger version of it.
McConnell prefaced his remarks by citing the headline on the latest Gallup poll, taken May 3-7: "Health care surges as top problem in U.S." The story said, "Americans became much more concerned about health care this month, with 18 percent naming it as the most important problem facing the U.S. Mentions of health care tie with mentions of 'dissatisfaction with government/poor leadership' at the top of the most-important-problems list. This is the highest percentage mentioning healthcare since November 2013, amid the troubled rollout of the government healthcare exchanges."

Gallup chart of top problems in poll during the last three months
McConnell said, "It’s not hard to see why so many Americans feel this way. They turn on the TV and hear that there will be even fewer options on the Obamacare marketplaces in state after state. They pick up the newspaper and see that even more double-digit premium increases are being proposed for too many of the Obamacare plan options that still remain. . . . It’s troubling news, especially given that so many states, like mine, have already experienced insurers fleeing the Obamacare marketplace leaving families with limited options. This year . . . 49 percent, nearly half of the counties in Kentucky, have only one insurer to choose from. And of course, having only one option is really no choice at all."

McConnell said nothing in his speech about Medicaid, the expansion of which under Obamacare covers about 470,000 Kentuckians, according to the latest figures from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. About 80,000 people in Kentucky are covered by private Obamacare policies.

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