GOP senators: Senate bill to tweak Obamacare lacks votes to pass

GOP senators: Senate bill to tweak Obamacare lacks votes to pass
(Image: Fox News)

Republican Senators Jerry Moran (KS) and Mike Lee (UT) announced Monday evening that they won’t support the “Better Care Reconciliation Act,” the latest GOP Senate health insurance bill attempting to make changes to Obamacare.

Their decisions mean the bill can’t pass.  Drudge calls it “dead,” in big red letters, and that assessment is probably correct.  It’s highly doubtful Mitch McConnell can find a way to get the BCRA, per se, voted on.  With John McCain out for medical reasons, it also seems unlikely that McConnell will try to put together something new between now and the delayed summer recess.

Moran’s and Lee’s concern is that the bill doesn’t actually repeal Obamacare (which is true).  Because it doesn’t eliminate the Obamacare mechanisms, the bill won’t lower premiums or deductibles for the subscribers who have insurance through the Obamacare exchanges.  In fact, a key concern for Lee is that the Ted Cruz amendment – which allows Obamacare insurers to sell policies that don’t meet all of Obamacare’s mandates, as long as they sell at least one policy that does – will tend to drive premiums even higher for Obamacare-compliant policies.

Lee’s point is captured in this sentence:

Lee objects that the amendment still does not repeal ObamaCare’s requirement that healthy and sick people be grouped in a “single risk pool,” which he says would undermine the effectiveness of the amendment.

Is reform truly dead until after the recess?  We’ll know soon enough.  Maybe Trump can pull a rabbit out of a hat, as he did earlier in the House.  I don’t automatically discount that possibility; Trump has gotten a number of things done that no one thought he could.  But I’d certainly put the odds at less than 50%.

There will be all kinds of tediously superficial “analysis” of what’s going on here.  I won’t give those ill-considered, easy answers oxygen.  It’s more important to focus on what is going on.

It’s this.  The fight over Obamacare is the fight over how “America” will see government.  It is a profound and terrible fight.  It’s about the relationship of man to the state, and what the people will be required to live with in the absence of constitutional protections.

The most meaningful of those protections have already been either invalidated or eroded to a near-fatal degree.  The Obamacare mandate to purchase health insurance was upheld by the Supreme Court, and thus the protection against being required to purchase something merely because you fog a mirror has been done away with.

Now, the U.S. government can require you to buy whatever some passing majority thinks you should have to.  You are, in effect, an indentured servant in that regard.  An obligation incident to no other contingency, one levied just because you live, can be placed on you at any time.  It doesn’t even have to be called a tax, in the law as written.  All the government has to do is go before the courts afterward and say it meant to think of the mandate as a tax – and you’re on the hook.

That is what the Supreme Court ruling means.  The rest of Obamacare, along with other trends in the use of government – such as the constant collection of data about us, for reasons often obscure or ill-explained – are rapidly eroding your privacy and your discretion over how much you behave in a truly private capacity.

The objection by Mike Lee, that Obamacare groups healthy and sick people in a single risk pool, is a key symptom of that erosion.  Lee is right that grouping the insured thus causes the healthy to have to pay premiums as if they were sick.

But the implications go well beyond that.  How is a government to manage a unified risk pool, if it does not define “healthy” versus “sick,” and then decide which category you fall into?  And how much data about your entire life will the government demand, in order to manage its risk pool, and you?  What decisions will it take away from you and your doctor, in order to manage government programs?

These are the kinds of questions we should not even have to deal with in the halls of government.  Government has no business trying to “manage” health care for us, and the inability of our senators to agree on what to do about Obamacare is evidence that there is still a spark of the flame of liberty alive in our land.  Our entire Congress is not sold out to the deadly encroachment of all-encompassing government.  If it were, this wouldn’t be nearly so hard.

A few paragraphs back, I put the word “America” in quotes.  I did that for a reason.  If we cannot truly repeal Obamacare and reclaim some semblance of the original basis of our national government, then we are not America any longer.  The name may remain, but the meaning will have gone.

It will take something besides electing Republicans to office, to be a meaningful America again.  I urge you not to make fun of the Senate Republicans and their BCRA flail.  Some of them, to be sure, are exposing themselves fully as big-government sell-outs, and it’s fair to call them out for that.  But condemning all the Senate Republicans for not getting something done is a lightweight’s way of utterly missing what matters.

Obamacare is too big to repair, because it is a decisive break with the principles and meaning of America.  It writes, in thousands and thousands of pages of dense text, the exact price of the chains and slavery of arbitrary government that Patrick Henry once spoke so powerfully against.

It was good when Trump and the House leadership broke the spell of the “Washington machine” by getting something passed in early May – without the special-interest lobbying machine having written it.  But that was just the start.  Everything we see that’s too hard and unresolved in Congress today is the fight for America’s future going on.  Be glad the fight hasn’t been lost yet.  Will we be “America” at the end of it?  Or America?  Pray without ceasing.  There are miles to go before we sleep.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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