It's been one hell of a bad 24 hours in health care headlines
But scratch the surface and you can understand the hesitation and uncertainty
That’s the headline of a terrific piece published Monday night by Roll Call’s Joe Williams detailing the fact that very few Republican senators even know what is in the bill that, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is expected to be voted on by the Senate before the July 4 recess.
And that headline comes hard on this one from Axios: “Senate GOP won’t release draft health care bill.” That story details the strategic decision made by the Republicans writing the bill to keep its details out of public sight for fear of Democrats – and the media – picking it apart before it even makes it to the Senate floor.
And that headline, came just after this one: “Why Republicans might let their health care bill fail.”
That’s one hell of a bad 24 hours in health care headlines. But scratch the surface and you can understand the hesitation and uncertainty coming out of Senate Republicans as it relates to the American Health Care Act.
First, and most importantly, the bill passed by the House is already deeply unpopular with the public. In a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, just 31% of people had a favorable view of the AHCA as compared to 55% who see it in a unfavorable light. (Two thirds of Republicans – 67% – had a favorable view of the legislation.)
That’s not even close to the most daunting number in the poll for Senate Republicans, however. There’s the fact that 75% believe that the bill passed by the House accomplishes “some” (40%) or “none” (35%) of what President Donald Trump promised in regard to health care on the campaign trail. Just 8% – yes 8%! – think the Senate should pass the bill from the House without making any changes. Three in 10 said they didn’t think the Senate should pass any sort of health care bill at all.
Then there is the fact that it remain decidedly unclear whether 50 Republican Senate votes exist for any sort of compromise health care legislation. House Republicans spent weeks cobbling together the votes for the bill, a process that featured a series of very high-profile hiccups. And even then it barely passed.
No one understands better than McConnell how to count votes – and what to do if the votes aren’t there. As one conservative Senate aide told CNN’s MJ Lee and Lauren Fox:
“It might be that McConnell knows he can’t get to 50 so he’s going as far left as possible to give moderates cover when they do vote for this bill.”
The fact Senate Republicans have, until this week, done a very good job of hiding is that the future of any healthcare bill in their chamber is extremely dicey. Few senators even know what might be in the bill. Even fewer express any sort of confidence that whatever the bill looks like can pass the Senate. Or that doing so would be anything close to good politics for Republicans trying to hold their seats in the Senate (and the House.)
To put a fine point on it: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Predictions in this political environment – and with Donald Trump in the White House – are a dangerous thing. But the forecast for the health care bill in the Senate looks, at least from the headlines so far this week, decidedly gloomy for Republicans.