The Transylvania Times -

Bad Process Equals Bad Bill


June 26, 2017

“This new Senate bill was crafted in secrecy behind closed doors without a single hearing or open debate—and it shows. The Senate bill would hit millions of Americans with higher costs and result in less coverage for them.”

–Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s executive vice president

Last Thursday, a small group of Republican senators released their version of health care legislation. Due to the surreptitious way in which this “discussion draft” was crafted, the bill has been widely criticized. Much of the blame lies with Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.), who hopes this “discussion draft” is revised and passed sometime this week.

“I’m pleased that we were able to arrive at a draft that incorporates input from so many different members, who represent so many different constituents, who are facing so many different challenges,” said McConnell upon the bill’s release.

That one comment strays so far from the truth that McConnell is either a liar, has a perverted perspective of inclusion or does not know the meaning of the word “many.” The bill was created in secret by 13 senators, including McConnell. The group included no Democrats and no women. The standing committees that normally deal with health care were completely bypassed. There were no hearings and thus no open testimony from doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, insurance agents, patients, etc.

“Health care is such an important thing,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). “I think we should have debated it in open, in committee hearings, have both sides bring in witnesses.”

Not only was the legislation hidden from the entire public and 87 senators, but at least one of the 13 senators in the “working group” also was excluded.

“Even though I’ve been a member of this working group assigned to help narrow some of the focus of this, I haven’t seen the bill,” said Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) the day before the bill was released. “It has become increasingly apparent over the past few days that even though we thought we were going to be in charge of writing this bill within this working group, it’s not being written by us. It’s apparently being written by a small handful of staff members of the Republican leadership in the Senate. So, if you’re frustrated by the lack of transparency in this process, I share your frustration wholeheartedly.”

Since only a handful of people, who apparently have little or no firsthand experience with providing health care, created the bill, it was severely criticized when released. The American Hospital Association, which represents nearly 5,000 hospitals, said the Senate should “go back to the drawing board” and that “Medicaid cuts of this magnitude are unsustainable and will increase costs to individuals with private insurance.” The Federation of American Hospitals said the bill does not “sustain affordable, high quality individual coverage.” Organizations representing medical centers in small or rural communities said the bill would “accelerate” a reduction in services or closings of the centers.

American Academy of Pediatrics President Fernando Stein said, “The bill fails all children by leaving more families uninsured, or without insurance they can afford or that meets their basic needs.”

Darrell Kirch, president and CEO of The American Association of Medical Colleges, which represents all 147 accredited medical schools in the United States, said, “We are extremely disappointed by the Senate bill released today. Despite promises to the contrary, it will leave millions of people without health coverage, and others with only bare bones plans that will be insufficient to properly address their needs.”

Some Republican senators are also troubled. Rand says the legislation is “predicated upon still propping up the insurance companies.” Susan Collins said the Medicaid cuts ‘would mean states would be faced with very unpalatable cases of restricting eligibility or allowing rural hospitals to go under.”

Health care legislation affects everyone. To draft effective legislation requires input from dozens of individuals and organizations representing a diversity of concerns and perspectives, people who know what the real life implications would be. Until we have an open process in which health care is discussed by all concerned, we will end up with bad legislation that will rightly be criticized because it would hurt more Americans than it would help.


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