The Republican effort to deprive millions of Americans of health insurance in order to finance tax cuts for the rich — an effort opposed by doctors, nurses, public health professionals, and a strong majority of the American people — failed early this morning.
It failed by the slimmest of margins, a single vote, and only because three GOP Senators — Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and John McCain of Arizona — joined every Senate Democrat in voting against the final Republican proposal.
The three GOP heroes deserve our gratitude, as do the 48 Senators who caucus with the Democrats and also voted against this misguided proposal. Many others deserve to be remembered for supporting a bill they knew was wrong.
Lindsay Graham of South Carolina called the stripped-down GOP proposal a “disaster” and a “fraud,” but voted for it nonetheless (as did Ron Johnson of Wisconsin who had earlier threatened to vote against the bill for the same reason).
Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia — whose state has benefited enormously from the Affordable Care Act and who famously declarted she “didn’t come here to hurt people” — also voted for the bill, one that would quadruple the number of uninsured in West Virginia.
Rob Portman of Ohio, who cultivates an image as a moderate, praises Medicaid and talked big about the defects of Republican health plans, also voted for that bill knowing full well the number of uninsured in Ohio would triple.
Dean Heller of Nevada, who had earlier projected independence because of the devastation the GOP proposls would have visited on Nevada, fell into line, an obedient lapdog intimidated into silence by Donald Trump. Threatened with a primary next year, Jeff Flake of Arizona did so as well.
In short, it wasn’t just the bill that was a fraud. A lot of those who had earlier spoken out against the GOP effort turned out to be frauds as well by falling into line when Mitch McConnell cracked the whip. None of these people have any business being in the United States Senate.
After the bill failed, 51 to 49, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, pleaded for a new bipartisan process to improve the nation’s health care system. John McCain did so as well.
“We must now return to the correct way of legislating and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of aisle, heed the recommendations of nation’s governors, and produce a bill that finally delivers affordable health care for the American people,” McCain said in a statement after the vote. “We must do the hard work our citizens expect of us and deserve.”
But others, most notably Donald Trump, were having having none of it.
And make no mistake. Trump and his Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price, can and already have done a lot of damage to Obamacare as this article makes clear in nauseating detail.
It’s hard to say definitively that the GOP effort to repeal and replace Obamacare is completely dead. For the moment at least, however, it’s deader than it’s ever been up until now.
Mitch McConnell said on the floor that it was time to move on. He also said “Our only regret is that we didn’t achieve what we hoped to accomplish.”
Think about that. McConnell’s only regret is that he failed to deprive millions of Americans of their health insurance!
Sunday will be the 52nd anniversary of President Johnson signing the bill into law that created the Medicaid and Medicare programs.
Happy birthday indeed, Medicaid and Medicare, at least for now.