A key conservative senator, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, was up early Thursday morning trashing the extremely hurried process by which Republicans are rushing the American Health Care Act through the House Committee process:
1. House health-care bill can't pass Senate w/o major changes. To my friends in House: pause, start over. Get it right, don't get it fast.— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) March 9, 2017
2. GOP shouldn't act like Dems did in O'care. No excuse to release bill Mon night, start voting Wed. With no budget estimate!— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) March 9, 2017
3. What matters in long run is better, more affordable health care for Americans, NOT House leaders' arbitrary legislative calendar.— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) March 9, 2017
The charge that Republicans’ current behavior is “like” what Dems did with Obamacare is completely false (in line with GOP politicians’ general habit of basing their health care arguments on lies rather than on conservative health policy ideas), but Cotton is certainly correct to say that this is an exceptionally rushed process.
He’s also a key figure to watch in the Senate. Cotton is a very conservative senator with a high profile and some national ambitions. Arkansas, which he represents, is also a low-income state that has accepted federal Medicaid expansion money and thus would lose out significantly if the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion were curtailed, as proscribed by AHCA.
It’s awkward for a senator from such a conservative state (Trump got 60 percent of the vote in Arkansas) to say anything good about the Affordable Care Act, but his constituents — including low-income Medicaid recipients but also health care providers, retail store owners, and others — have a strong interest in maintaining Medicaid expansion.