McConnell Differs from Trump & Pence on Next Steps to Address Health Care

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., listens to a question while speaking with the media after he and other Senate Republicans had a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Tuesday, June 27, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The GOP’s tepid attempt at addressing Obamacare was a dismal failure.

Republicans have known about the Affordable Care Act, and have disliked it, for more than seven years. When the chance came to do something about the health care mess, their answer didn’t amount to much, and ended with the unpopular “skinny repeal.”


On Saturday, in the wake of that failure, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell commented on the next steps Congress should take.

ABC News reports, emphasis mine:

The Kentucky senator noted Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee is working on “some kind of bipartisan approach” that would involve subsidies for insurance companies.

Alexander recently said he will work with the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, on a bill next month that would pay insurers through 2018. In exchange, Alexander wants Democrats to agree to make it easier for states to choose their own health coverage standards that insurers must provide rather than abiding by former President Barack Obama’s law.

“If the Democrats are willing to support some real reforms rather than just an insurance company bailout, I would be willing to take a look at it,” McConnell said, hours before he was expected to speak at the famously raucous Fancy Farm picnic in western Kentucky.

Saturday marked McConnell’s first appearance in Kentucky since the failed health care vote.

Real, meaningful reforms in the insurance market would be a welcome step in the right direction. Exchanges are crumbling and insurers are leaving them in droves. Keeping proposed legislation from turning into a snowball of bailouts would be a struggle, considering the Democrats’ (and too often, the Republicans’) penchant for government spending. Would the Democrats agree on allowing states to choose their own coverage standards instead of following the ones established by the ACA? Highly unlikely. Federalism isn’t their thing.


The Majority Leader also spoke of the repeal and replace effort.

McConnell told reporters Saturday there is “still a chance” the Senate could revive the measure to repeal and replace “Obamacare,” but he acknowledged the window for that is rapidly closing.

It’s safe to say that even if such a window remains open (only for a time), the likelihood of anything substantial happening remains quite low. From Vice President Pence’s perspective, though, the fight to repeal and replace Obamacare is far from over, as he passionately expressed on Friday night, emphasis mine.

Vice President Mike Pence vowed to continue to press for the repeal and replacement of Obamacare on Friday night, telling a group of conservative students in Washington that the effort “ain’t over by a long shot.”

“My fellow conservatives, let me be clear. This ain’t over. This ain’t over by a long shot,” Pence said. “And President Trump and I are absolutely committed to keep our promise to the American people. We were not elected to save Obamacare — we were elected to repeal and replace it.”
Perhaps it would be helpful if President Trump, VP Pence, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could get on the same page?

For now, Obamacare is still the law of the land, and there is no repeal/replace effort in sight. As far as a bipartisan approach to addressing even some of the health care crisis? That’s a long shot.

And somehow I thought a Republican-controlled Congress and White House might actually get things accomplished.



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