I can’t tell you what’s in the Obamacare repeal bill currently being worked out by Senate Republicans, and neither can Senate Democrats, because the proposal—under which 23 million people stand to lose their coverage—is still a secret.
Tidbits of information have slowly leaked out. If recent reports are to be believed, the Senate version of the bill, unlike the House version, might maintain protections for preexisting conditions while still allowing states to opt out of essential benefit coverage like maternity care and prescription drugs.
And as of now, Senate Republicans aren’t planning to host a single open hearing to debate the potentially catastrophic effects of the plan.
On Thursday, while most of the news was trained on former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Claire McCaskill, the Missouri Democrat, asked if her colleagues behind the bill—a group of 13 Republican men—have any intention of holding hearings before calling a vote.
But maybe “asked” isn’t the right word. She had to plead with them for information.
“We have no idea what’s being proposed,” McCaskill said. “There’s a group of guys in a back room somewhere that are making these decisions. There were no hearings in the House. I mean, listen, this is hard to take.”
As McCaskill went on to note, what’s being debated behind closed doors right now is a bill that would impact one-sixth of the American economy and health insurance for millions of people.
The questions couldn’t be more serious. Will the Medicaid expansion survive this version of the bill? Will essential benefit requirements? None of this is clear, and the members crafting the legislation don’t want to give their colleagues in the Senate—much less the American public—enough time to ask questions or modify the bill in any way.
“We’re not going to have an opportunity to offer a single amendment,” McCaskill continued, incredulous. “It is all being done with an eye to try to get it by with 50 votes and the vice president.”
Feeling sick yet?