The Senate GOP released their health care bill Thursday, and they’re calling it the Better Care Reconciliation Act — but some prominent conservatives have taken to Twitter to dismiss the idea that it’s “better care,” saying it’s more like “Obamacare lite.”
Senate bill lives up to "Obamacare lite" moniker -- offers income adjusted tax credits that go up to 350% of FPL vs 400% in Obamacare.— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) June 22, 2017
Philip Klein, the managing editor at the Washington Examiner, argued on Twitter that the proposed health care bill would actually “rescue Obamacare.”
This is a bill that does more to rescue Obamacare than it does to repeal it. Lots of up front bailout $, promised cuts come later.— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) June 22, 2017
Indeed, several prominent conservatives have come out saying the Senate bill doesn’t go far enough in repealing and replacing the provisions of the original Affordable Care Act.
Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich writes that the bill is a “tweak” of Obamacare:
This is not an Obamacare repeal bill, it's a tweak. McConnell: "Ultimate goal is to transition away from Obamacare entirely"...eventually— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) June 22, 2017
Daniel Horowitz, senior editor at Conservative Review, also joined in.
This is not Obamacare-lite. This literally keeps Obamacare and ensures a perpetual need for bailouts or single payer. Nothing else matters— Daniel Horowitz (@RMConservative) June 22, 2017
To be sure, the Senate bill does differ from the ACA in key ways. While it “leaves the fundamental structure of Obamacare’s changes to the individual insurance market in place,” writes Vox’s Andrew Prokop, “that doesn’t make the bill a nothingburger ... far from it.” It would roll back and severely cut the Medicaid program, per Prokop:
The party’s chief goal is to slash Medicaid’s spending on poor Americans, so they can cut taxes for rich Americans. It’s a massive redistribution from the poor to the rich.
The GOP’s policy push is no longer about repealing Obamacare or even really trying to make its individual insurance markets, which they repeatedly criticize as “failing,” work better.
But Drew White, a senior federal policy analyst at Texas Public Policy and former policy adviser for Sen. Ted Cruz, calls it “Obamacare 2.0”:
If you wondered why so much energy went into primaries against @GOP establishment, the Senate's Obamacare 2.0 forever answers your question.— Drew White (@DrewWhiteTX) June 22, 2017
His thread goes into more detail:
2/ Obamacare's core issues are the federal insurance coverage regulations and mandates combined with its subsidies and Medicaid expansion.— Drew White (@DrewWhiteTX) June 22, 2017
4/ The GOP bill is preventing us from being able to operate in a market-oriented environment and double down on Ocare's flawed premise.— Drew White (@DrewWhiteTX) June 22, 2017
Kelli Ward, a former Arizona state senator, calls the new bill “squishy Obamacare 2.0.”
Thursday afternoon, FreedomWorks, a Tea Party–affiliated group that opposed the ACA and called the House-proposed American Health Care Act “Obamacare lite,” emailed a statement criticizing the new bill, which read in part: “Unfortunately, the Senate bill is an amendment to ObamaCare, not a repeal of it.” The statement goes on to call out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in particular: “Leader Mitch McConnell even said he would repeal ObamaCare ‘root and branch.’ This bill, however, breaks those promises.”
As the day unfolded, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) criticized the bill, too, and ultimately voiced his opposition to it in its current form. Three other conservative senators joined him in saying they could not vote for it: Mike Lee (UT), Ted Cruz (TX), and Ron Johnson (WI). (FreedomWorks affirmed its support of Paul, Lee, and Cruz in its statement, as well.)
JUST IN: Expressing concerns about health care bill, Sen. Paul tells @Kasie, "It looks like we're keeping Obamacare -- not repealing it."— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) June 22, 2017
The current #healthcarebill does not repeal Obamacare. It does not keep our promises to the American people.— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) June 22, 2017
Paul first used the term “Obamacare lite” in March when he tweeted out his pledge to oppose the House’s proposed bill.
I will not vote for Obamacare Lite nor will many of my colleagues. We will keep our word. I call on House leaders to do the same— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) March 2, 2017
The tweets from conservatives show just how difficult it is for Republican leadership to get everyone on board with the bill. Senate moderates have been skeptical of the Medicaid phaseout, and conservatives think any Obamacare repeal bill needs to be much more drastic.
The Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill next week, and we’ll see then if gets enough votes to pass.