The Health 202: There will be dead bodies whichever way the Senate swings on health care

The Health 202: There will be dead bodies whichever way the Senate swings on health care

Dead bodies
A casket in Yokohama, Japan. Photographer: Shiho Fukada/Bloomberg

Let’s put it this way: There will be dead bodies one way or another, regardless of which way the Senate swings on its health-care bill.

(The Washington Post) — The Senate GOP quest to pass a measure replacing big parts of the Affordable Care Act and enacting steep Medicaid spending cuts suffered a spectacular meltdown yesterday as senators kept jumping ship, forcing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to suspend his plans for a vote this week and virtually guaranteeing health-care will remain front-and-center on Capitol Hill throughout July.

There were glimmers of harmony after the Republicans huddled at the White House yesterday afternoon with President Trump, but it was clear the legislation would still need changes to secure enough votes and that a vote this week is still unlikely.

“The president got an opportunity to learn all the various positions on things that we’ve been discussing,” McConnell said after the gathering. “We all agreed that, because the markets are imploding, we need to reach an agreement among ourselves here as soon as possible and then move to the floor after the recess.”

There’s a widespread expectation that McConnell will ultimately bring some version of his health-care bill to the floor sometime in the 13 legislative days before August recess — even if he knows it will fail. It’s not enough for him to tell the GOP base it couldn’t get done, not after seven years of promising otherwise. He’s got to show them with dead bodies on the floor — a morbid, insider way of describing a measure that can’t get enough votes to pass.

“It’s now or never,” Rodney Whitlock, a former longtime health staffer for Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), told The Health 202.

On the other hand, if Republicans do pass their health-care bill, it could cause 22 million fewer Americans to have health coverage a decade from now. Some of those people will voluntarily choose to forgo insurance. But others facing serious illnesses will find plans less affordable than under the ACA, fueling dramatic charges by Democrats that more people will die under the GOP approach.

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