Ahead of another health care vote in the Senate, which came today after multiple Republican plans failed earlier in the week, New Mexico’s U.S. Senators took to the chamber’s floor for the debate.
Sen. Tom Udall described the chaotic healthcare process as “healthcare roulette” with leadership deciding what version of a health care bill to vote on by the bounce of a ball.
“Not even Republicans know what proposal is coming next and the American people certainly don’t know what’s coming,” Udall said.
From what Udall knows of the latest plan, dubbed the “skinny repeal” effort, he said it would kick millions off of insurance rolls while raising premiums for those who still have insurance by 20 percent.
Sen. Martin Heinrich also was critical of the “skinny repeal,” and the congressional process.
“Now stuck without a path forward, their latest idea is to pass a small back-room deal before the end of the day that no one has seen yet,” he said.
Heinrich said the stutter step push to repeal the bill, a priority of congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump, showed the futility of the effort.
“Repealing the law made for great bumper stickers, great campaign promises,” Heinrich said.
He said the Republicans’ actions, including their lack of a plan, showed the opposition to the Affordable Care Act is “more about politics than it ever was about actual policy.”
Udall said he found just one consistency in the Republican efforts to repeal the nation’s health care plan: .
“Every bill is consistent that it cuts care for millions of Americans.”
Udall also said he received 14,500 calls, emails and letters calling on him to reject the Republican plans. He said that was “an unprecedented number from the small state of New Mexico.”
Heinrich said he heard from “literally thousands of New Mexicans who have told me how important their health care coverage is for them and their family.”
No Democrat has voted for any of the health care changes so far. Tuesday, Senators voted on the motion to proceed, which allowed them to begin debate on the repeal and replacement of the ACA. Two Republicans voted against that effort, leaving a 50-50 vote. Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie.
Since then, efforts including a straight repeal of the ACA failed with all Democrats voting against and joined by enough Republicans to sink the efforts.
The vote on skinny repeal could happen as early as Thursday afternoon. If that bill fails, it’s not clear what Republicans will do next.
If something does pass the Senate, it would need to go back to the House of Representatives, for either a concurrence vote of a conference committee. A conference committee would have the House and Senate come to a compromise. Heinrich referred to that possibility as negotiating with the “tea party” and “Freedom Caucus.”
Udall remarked on Trump’s lack of involvement on the specifics of any repeal effort, saying the president “stands to one side while not caring one whit” what a health care bill will look like.