After more than a month of hurry up and wait the Senate Republicans released their version of Trumpcare. It’s called the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). On the fast track for a full Senate vote within a week, it’s name foreshadows all the drama, tragedy, and irony that political theater can muster. And every American, who chooses to to pay attention, has a front row seat.
What happens now?
Act 1, in which everyone rushes to judgement.
A flurry of action takes place across the media landscape.
The news media is screaming out headlines like these.
Senators are tweeting and posting to Facebook and broadcasting on Facebook Live their readings of the bill.
Various health organizations have launched campaigns urging people to tell their Senators to vote “no” on the bill.
After taking in the news and social media I’ve come to the conclusion that some people hate the BCRA. Some people really hate the BCRA. And some people just want to spin it. But no one is saying it will provide better care.
Therein lies the irony.
Act 2, in which the people respond.
The people affected take to the political stage and raise their voices.
This response is taking many forms: calling Senators’ offices (again!), taking to social media with the hashtag #HealthcareMatters, and physical protests.
As the BCRA was being released a group of disabled people and their advocates staged a die-in at Senator Mitch McConnell’s office. Dozens of protesters were arrested as they chanted in the hallway “Our lives and liberty shouldn’t be stolen to give a tax break to the wealthy.” Video of Capitol Police forcibly removing disabled people from outside Senator Mitch McConnell’s office, some in wheelchairs others being physically dragged or carried down the hall, made national news. It’s a video that will likely haunt many Senators in political ads for many election cycles to come.
“The government wants to kill me,” this protester said as she was removed from the protest area pic.twitter.com/O6xLukVbIp
— Andrew Desiderio (@desiderioDC) June 22, 2017
One of the protest organizers stated that “To say people will die under this law is not an exaggeration.”
Meanwhile, the Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll shows that Republicans see Medicaid as welfare while most Americans don’t.
Therein lies the tragedy.
Act 3, in which the Senate takes direct action.
The Senate convenes.
So, just what is in the BCRA? Pretty much all the same stuff that was in the House’s American Health Care Act (AHCA). Cuts to Medicaid. but this time they’re rumored to be to the tune of $800 billion. Opt-out options for States to eliminate or reduce essential healthcare benefits and insurance marketplaces. Elimination of coverage mandates. Cuts to taxes on the wealthy, also rumored to be to the tune of $800 billion. Interesting how the cuts balance out.
Will Senators debate for longer than the minimum requirement? Will Senators make procedural moves like introducing amendments to delay action or yield back their time to shorten the debate? Will Senators vote before going on 4th of July recess? Will the Vice President have to cast a tie-breaking vote?
What will be the ultimate political cost to be paid by Senators and by the American people?
We won’t know until that day comes.
Therein lies the drama.
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