Health care legislation being shaped in secrecy

Secret Republican Senate Talks Are Shaping Health Care Legislation

By Susan Davis
NPR, May 15, 2017

The Senate is negotiating its own legislation to repeal and replace much of the Affordable Care Act in secret talks with senators hand-picked by party leaders and with no plans for committee hearings to publicly vet the bill.

Most Republicans see no political advantage to attempting to craft bipartisan legislation that could aid vulnerable Red State Senate Democrats heading in to the midterm elections. In other words, there is mutual disinterest in bipartisanship when it comes to the fundamentals of Obamacare.

The GOP health care talks are expected to roll through the summer months in the Senate. The long-term strategy — according to senior GOP aides in both the House and Senate — is to pass a Senate bill and send it back to the House for an up-or-down vote.


Hope You Don’t Expect The Senate GOP To Be Transparent About Obamacare Repeal

By Jonathan Cohn
HuffPost, May 13, 2017

House leaders wrote legislation privately and then pushed it through the two committees of jurisdiction with markup sessions that lasted just one day each. Leaders had to pull the bill from the House floor at the last minute, because it lacked enough support to pass, but their response was to return to private negotiations, hash out the additional amendments, and then proceed quickly with the final vote.

Of course that was precisely what House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and his allies were trying to accomplish ― to avoid public scrutiny, to get legislation through the House before either the media or the public could recognize and seize on its shortcomings. Now it looks like Senate Republicans are intent upon doing the same thing.

Democrats are furious, in part because most of them were around in 2009 and 2010 when they spent more than a year writing and debating what eventually became the Affordable Care Act. For all of the discussion that took place behind closed doors back then, quite a lot took place in public ― over the course of more than 130 hearings, spanning five committees, according to a Democratic tally that didn’t even include administration events like the daylong, bipartisan session at Blair House that President Barack Obama presided over personally.

The deciding factor could be public reaction, but the public can’t react to a bill unless it gets a good look at it. It appears Republican leaders are trying not to let that happen.



By Don McCanne, M.D.

Health policy is difficult enough for the public to understand without our politicians going behind closed doors to hash it out. As Jonathan Cohn states, “The deciding factor could be public reaction, but the public can’t react to a bill unless it gets a good look at it.”

Polls do show that the public is reacting favorably to the policy features of single payer. They understand that an improved Medicare for all would bring each of them essential health care that is affordable and that allows free choice of health care professionals and hospitals. Many even believe that health care should be a right, but they don’t have to believe that as long as they themselves can be assured of life-long affordable access to essential health care services.

Maybe someone should slip under the Senators’ door the Physicians’ Proposal, so that they can take a good look at it in privacy.

A Physicians’ Proposal for Single-Payer Health Care Reform: