Upon dramatically voting down the Republicans' last health-care repeal bill, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called for a "return to regular order" on health-care reform, including committee meetings, hearings and amendments by Democrats.
Well, one out of three isn't … what he had in mind. But that is what's happening.
As Republicans race against the clock to repeal Obamacare by Sept. 30 — the last day Senate rules allow them to pass that legislation with only 50 votes, plus a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence — they have set one day of hearings on their latest bill, Graham-Cassidy, on Sept. 26, the week the bill is scheduled for a floor vote.
The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (chaired by bill co-sponsor Sen. Ron Johnson) will hold a hearing on the subject “Block Grants: How States Can Reduce Health Care Costs.”
Daily Intelligencer points out that the committee holds no legislative power over health care, and that Johnson "even admitted he was only doing this because the committees that did have jurisdiction weren’t stepping up." The New York magazine column calls the hearing "fake," "phony" and "theater."
Graham-Cassidy would convert federal health-care funding into block grants for individual states. Each state could then establish whatever health-care system it wishes.
The bill would also cut tens of billions of dollars from Medicaid, defund Planned Parenthood and roll back a number of Obamacare's protections. Under Graham-Cassidy, insurers could reject or charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions, set lifetime-coverage caps and sell insurance plans without basic coverage areas like maternity care.
The Congressional Budget Office score will not be ready by Sept. 30, so Senators will vote on Graham-Cassidy without knowing how much the plan will cost, how much premiums will rise, or how many people will lose health insurance under the plan.
If the Republicans' last plan had become law, the CBO estimated that 32 million people would have lost health insurance. That bill failed in July. Analysts call Graham-Cassidy more severe.