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Why Senate Republicans’ health care video is so revealing

They have nothing at all to say about their bill.

President Donald Trump Meets with House and Senate Leadership Photo by Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images

Senate Republicans want to repeal and replace Obamacare, but what that actually means is something of a mystery.

The Senate GOP conference put out a video Monday emphasizing the need to repeal Obamacare, claiming it is “destroying the individual market,” hiking up premiums, and “causing chaos and confusion.”

“The status quo of Obamacare is unacceptable,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said. “Are you okay with that?” he asked, in a tag line repeated by a handful of other white male (and mostly older) Republican senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

But much like when Vox reporters asked Republicans to explain the policy problems they are trying to solve with their bill, the video is more telling for what they don’t talk about. Watch for yourself:

There’s a reason for that: Most of them probably haven’t seen their health bill.

For weeks, a small handful of Republican senators and their staff have been working to piece together the American Health Care Act in secret. Reportedly, the bill — which would overhaul the American health care system, and, if it’s anything like the bill the House passed, will likely cause millions to lose their health insurance — will be released sometime this week and voted on before senators leave Washington for the July Fourth break.

The secrecy has put congressional Republicans in a uniquely strange position. Some can’t say what the bill is trying to do — other than pull enough votes to pass the Senate — or how they believe it will improve the American health care system. When Vox reporters asked a handful of Republican senators what mechanisms the bill would implement to fix the problems in Obamacare, many struggled to get into specifics:

How will Republicans lower premiums? “It’s working together and coming up with a bill that does do that,” Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas said. What tool will bring stability to Obamacare’s volatile exchanges? “By bringing certainty to the insurance market,” Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said. What new policy will lead tax cuts to lower premiums? “It’s teetering because the exchanges are failing,” Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi explained.

Until the text of the legislation is made public, Senate Republicans have no choice but to stick with one line they can use to sell their legislative efforts to the American public: that they think Obamacare is a disaster.

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