Democrats hit secrecy of GOP health care bill, threaten delays

Frederick Owens
June 20, 2017

Axios' Caitlin Owens and The Hill's Peter Sullivan reported Monday that party leadership is attempting to placate both conservatives and more moderate members on the key issue of Medicaid spending.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom O'Halleran said at a press conference Monday he plans to draft a letter to his Senate counterparts to demand more clarity on the American Health Care Act.

His comments come as Senate Republicans are working hard to finalize legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, without a formal, open drafting session.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will have none of it.

"These are merely the first steps we're prepared to take in order to shine a light on this shameful Trumpcare bill and reveal to the public the GOP's true intentions: to give the uber-wealthy a tax break while making middle class Americans pay more for less healthcare coverage", Schumer said.

Hoping to doom the GOP effort, a consumer health group said Sunday it was launching a $1.5 million campaign aimed at pressuring five Republican senators in the closely divided chamber to vote against the bill.

Also watch for the Medicaid expansion to be phased out more slowly than the steep cliff proposed by House Republicans.

Meanwhile as Democrats strategize how to best stop the House-passed health bill from moving forward, Senate Republicans are continuing closed-door negotiations.

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For example, Schumer used a parliamentary inquiry to ask on the floor how many days the Senate was in executive session to debate Obamacare.

"It's not unusual, especially for a big bill like this". Richard Durbin, a Democrat from IL, said on MSNBC that only three Republicans could stop the rush to pass legislation.

"I find it unbelievable that those same Republicans seem to think it's OK for legislation to be written behind closed doors and not have one single committee hearing", Sanders said, according to the Hill.

"I believe we're going to vote before the Fourth of July recess on a healthcare plan, a repeal and replacement of ObamaCare", Barrasso said on Fox News. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., told the Chicago Tribune. But there have been gazillions of hearings on this subject, when [Democrats] were in the majority, when we were in the majority. Republicans need 50 Senators plus the Vice President to provide the margin of victory on their health care package - which we are still waiting to read.

MCEVERS: How much sympathy do the Democrats have from Republicans in the Senate?

Democrats say the closed talks are a tacit acknowledgment by Republicans that their efforts are unpopular.

In the six weeks since the House of Representatives passed its Obamacare repeal legislation, Senate Republicans have insisted they will craft their own bill, but few details have emerged. About 3 million people in 1,388 counties could face take-it-or-leave-it choices from just one insurer, the paper says. He added that he was unaware of the president's view on the lack of transparency around the Republican healthcare bill. She noted that Trump's Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said at a hearing last week that he had not seen the text of the bill.

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