The American public can finally read Senate Republicans’ health bill, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act or BCRA.
For more than a month, a small group of senators has been meeting in secret to negotiate the American Health Care Act, a bill that would repeal and replace Obamacare. In the past week, an even smaller group of Senate leadership members and staffers drafted it — without the input of the majority of the Republican Party, let alone the American public.
Now, one week before the Senate is reportedly going vote on the legislation, they have unveiled the legislation’s text.
The bill is complex, its text is still being analyzed and we are awaiting a score from the Congressional Budget Office. But in brief, its essential features are:
- It makes dramatic cuts to Medicaid and overhauls the program’s structure.
- It makes Obamacare’s subsidies for the individual insurance marketplaces less generous.
- It slashes some taxes that almost entirely hit the wealthy.
Republican leadership has moved health care reform stealthily and quickly, a deliberate strategy to attract enough moderate and conservative votes while shielding the process from outside criticism. Senate Republicans can only afford to lose two votes on the bill in order to pass the legislation and send it back to the House with their changes.
Already the secret process has irked some members of the Senate, who have said it limits their time to come to a conclusion on the bill. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin went so far as to say it would be difficult for him to come to a “yes” vote, given the rushed process. It’s also made Obamacare defenders much harder to mobilize against the secret bill.
Now the bill is public. Either it will pass, and move forward to reconcile with the House, or the bill will fail, part of a “show them a body” strategy.
We’re about to see if the secret bill strategy works.