115th Congress, Congress, Issues, Obamacare, Senate

McCain opens door for ‘bipartisan’ bailout of insurance companies as Senate GOP bid to replace Obamacare falters


Shortly after Sen. John McCain’s hero’s return to the U.S. Senate, where he cast a decisive vote on the motion to proceed to the House-passed Obamacare repeal and replace legislation after being diagnosed with life-threatening brain cancer, McCain then took to the

Image Credit: Gage Skidmore CC by SA 2.0

floor to trash the entire process.

In a floor speech, McCain touted a “bipartisan” route to replacing the health care law and a “return to regular order,” drawing cheers from the chamber’s Democrats. He also blasted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for attempting to, in McCain’s words, “force the legislation past a unified opposition.”

“I don’t think that’s going to work in the end, and probably shouldn’t,” McCain said, adding, “We’re getting nothing done.”

In doing so, McCain all but invited Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to rewrite the nation’s health care law by making the standard for it to pass be that some Democrats support it — even as he bemoaned the fact that Obamacare was enacted without a single Republican supporting it.

“This means Senate Republicans abandoning budget reconciliation as a vehicle for repealing and replacing Obamacare and its 51-vote threshold and instead turning the Senate over to Schumer,” Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning noted in statement.

Ironically, the one accomplishment touted by McCain — confirming Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court — required Senate Republicans to abolish the judicial filibuster once and for all by lowering the threshold to confirm to 51 votes.

Senate Leadership sources have told conservative leaders that the only way to get a bipartisan bill would be if it were restricted to being nothing more than a bailout for insurance companies without ending the individual and employer mandates, Medicaid expansion or the insurance regulations.

Of course, Obamacare itself was a bailout for insurance companies in the first place.

Employer provided coverage has not grown at all since 2007, when 158 million were covered by employer-provided insurance, according to data compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation. 156 million had such coverage in 2015. Employer coverage fell from 53 percent of the population to 49 percent amid the recession and dropping employment population ratios for working age adults, accounting for 10 million people who would have had employer-based health insurance had the rate remained the same.

In the meantime, the individual insurance market grew from 14.5 million in 2007 to 21.8 million today, per Kaiser. This change occurred as employers laid off workers in the recession and after Obamacare became law, stopped providing employer-provided coverage at the same rate, forcing millions more into individual markets via the individual mandate and taxpayer subsidies. That was the bailout. Obamacare was just a way to give insurers a way to force the American people to buy their product. Even still, there are states where there are almost no alternative options available on insurance markets.

Why would we want to do that all over again?

In embracing a “bipartisan,” “regular order” approach to addressing this broken government mandated insurance system — apparently requiring a 60-vote threshold if it were occur outside the budget reconciliation process — McCain wants to reward Democrats with another shot at writing health care law rather than restoring competition and bringing down premiums with market-based solutions.

If there is a silver lining, it is that now that we are on the legislation finally, once there are GOP-offered amendments that are voted down one-by-one by Democrats, it will be clear that the only bipartisanship supported by Democrats are votes on their preferred amendments.

Leaving but two options. Keeping Obamacare, with the support of Democrats, or leaving it behind, without them.

Unfortunately, Senate Republicans’ first bid to replace Obamacare, the Better Care Act, as McCain predicted, lacked the votes, failing 43 to 57, with nine Republicans voting no.

For what it’s worth, McCain voted yes; he’s not even the biggest problem. The proposal included an amendment by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that would have allowed insurers to sell lower-cost plans to the American people. Didn’t Republicans campaign on bringing down premiums? The Cruz amendment would have given consumers more options on insurance markets. Perhaps those nine senators have a better plan to bring down premiums.

It should be noted that the House struggled similarly, and eventually came to a consensus that enjoyed support from all sides of the Republican Conference.

Other amendments will include the 2015 Obamacare partial repeal that passed both houses of Congress and was vetoed by former President Barack Obama, but that is thought to lack the votes as well.

We are on the bill but now what?  Without an apparent consensus for a replacement bill or even repeal, the Senate looks lost in its efforts to find a health care answer.

In meantime, President Donald Trump is taking his message on the road, rallying his supporters in Youngstown, Ohio. Touting the motion to proceed in the Senate, Trump declared to cheers, “We’re now one step closer from liberating our citizens from this Obamacare nightmare and delivering great health care for the American people.”

After four consecutive elections that were largely referenda against Obamacare, with Republicans successively picking up the House, Senate and finally the White House, failure to respond to constituents’ concerns would be a betrayal of the first order. For his part, Trump is delivering the American people in critical states that have created this historic moment for Congressional Republicans to be able to act on the nation’s broken health care system. If they cannot deliver, the blame will fall at their feet in 2018, not the President’s.

This is a guest post by Robert Romano senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.
  • Robert

    Maybe if some would get their head out of the back side and look at how successful single payer insurance is in every other industrialized country in the world and they are rated much higher in health care than the USA.
    Make medicare available to everyone and those that can afford it and want more coverage they would be able to buy it just like in every country that has single payer insurance.
    What we have and what is proposed is just money for the insurance companies, with single payer, non profit and salaries set in the bill then we save money.

    • Texas Belle

      How about looking at the Veteran Hospitals and the mess they are in to compare with single payer? The real answer for healthcare is to get the government out of it altogether. When government gets involved in our daily lives fraud goes up exponentially and care goes down by the same ratio. Ask people in other countries why they come here for good health care? Ask the young couple in England who tried to bring their infant son to the U.S. for care while the court told them he had to die. Healthcare should be between a person and his/her Doctor, not the government.

      • Robert

        Texas Belle
        To start with you apparently know nothing about single payer insurance which covers everyone and everyone pays the same premium, and if you want more than basic insurance you are fre to purchase it any where you want it and any options you like, but in the mean time everyone has insurance and can afford it. The VA is nothing to do with single payer its all politics and nothing more the insurance industry has been trying to make VA fail so then can take it over to make BILLIONS, name me one hospital that has not had the same problems as VA, it is just that the VA is so large it is news worthy when anything goes wrong where a private hospital in a twn and there are 125,000 of them is not much in the news except locally. The only person who come here for health care are normally rich rulers of other countries,who are to afraid they might get knocked off if they go to their own hospitals. Where our vacation home is in northern Maine in the lake region, nearly everyone goes to Canada for Medical Glasses, dental and prescription drugs. Four of my children live and work in Europe, 21 in England, one in London and one in Cumberland, ! daughter in Germany and a son in Norway, and they all think the insurance there is better than the Blue Cross Blue Shield I had them on in college.
        If you want to talk about that child in England which has doctors as good as we have and that was proven when the doctors from the US and Italy made the same prognosis that the doctors in England has made, that the most the child would have been is a living vegetable, why would the state pay for it, they would not here either and you probably already know that. My wife was turned down by our insurance company for a prescription that she needed but the insurance company said there were other drugs which would work, I paid out of my pocket for what the doctor said she needed, almost $80,000 a year. What is wrong with Medicare insurance for everyone it is a close to single payer as it gets.

    • kate777

      You apparently know nothing about Medicare…..believe me you do not want single payer insurance; you do not want Medicare…..there is a great deal of problems with Government insurance, the VA knows only too well and those of us on Medicare know just how terrible it is too. If one does not have supplemental insurance with Medicare, one is up the creek without a paddle.

      • Robert

        I was automatically put on Medicare 15 years ago when I turned 65, Medicare is the first payer and my other insurance became the second payer. I think Medicare is great, can not see a lot of difference between that and the Blue Cross Blue Shield that the family had all along, I still have the doctors we have had for years I see no big change. If you are indigent the state pays the co-pays, and they are not that much just 20%.
        If you have regular insurance you still have co-pays, so where is the difference.
        Those that could afford it could buy any insurance they want or just pay co pays,

        • kate777

          You have a supplement insurance so there is no problem, but if you have Medicare Original without supplement insurance, it does not pay. One has to have a certain low income before the State or Federal Government steps in and if one is above that amount, then one does not get the assistance. Each year Medicare sends a notice to those who are on Medicare Original to see if they qualify for assistance. No, you would not see a change as to physicians. Where one might see a change as to physicians is if one on Medicare only without a supplement. I don’t blame the physicians as Medicare rate of pay is unfair in my opinion because many physicians do take a loss. There is a difference in payout with private or supplemental insurance and just Medicare.
          I don’t mind paying my share of the cost bu I expect Medicare to pay its share as well. That is not the case in all circumstances. Hospitals get caught too as to Medicare payments. I am glad that you are okay insurance wise. You have a good day too.

  • Name

    McCain has lost it. He needs to step down now before he causes more damage.

  • Junie

    I question what have people been thinking to keep McCain, Graham, McConnell, Collins, Murkasky, and other RINOs in office. McCain go home and take Graham with you. We the people have got to get Term Limits and drain the sewer swamp. Get these out of office. They are the main RATS.

    • practicedcynic

      I am from AZ, and can tell you the rep. party, pushes McCain, , and he supports WASHINGHTON DC .

  • Texas Belle

    McCain needs to get brain surgery right away; it is affecting his mind. He might as well be a Democrat; he is one of the biggest RINOS in Congress.

  • practicedcynic

    McCain isn’t a CONSERVATIVE, he is barely a RINO,he is a WASHINGTON D.C. dweller and supports it against the USA.

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