GOP eyes Senate health care vote next week, amid grumbling

Everybody pretty well understands it.

Responsible governance would take the time to build a bipartisan coalition supporting reform of America's health insurance system.

That argument rings hollow with some of his fellow Republicans.

Republican Senator Rand Paul is slamming the effort by his Kentucky colleague, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. "Now, we're doing the same thing", Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told CBS News.

"I would join with Sen". Mike Lee said in a Facebook live video Tuesday. They say they will slow work on bills by refusing to let the Senate bypass time-consuming procedural steps, which it usually does on most legislation. "If it is going to pass, the bill is going to have to make meaningful steps to reduce premiums", he said.

"We're going to make every effort to pass a bill that dramatically changes the current health care law", McConnell said when asked if he has the votes.

On the other hand, a more generous phase-out of the expansion and higher Medicaid growth caps could alienate conservatives that want substantial savings from the bill. And another conservative, Sen.

"We believe we can do better than the Obamacare status quo, and we fully intend to do so", said McConnell, R-Ky. "That for me is a nonstarter". That explains why Mr. McConnell wants to have a vote on his legislation before Congress leaves town for the Fourth of July without any hearings or much public debate.

However, both bills carry concerns about civil liberties. A handful of senators from conservatives to moderates are by no means persuaded that they can vote for the emerging measure.

Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson hinted at what that would look like at a constituent event last Friday. It has come under widespread criticism from Democrats and helped prompt some moderate House Republicans to vote against the measure.

For the senators now crafting the Obamacare replacement, it matters little what is in the plan or what its effects will be.

The bill would also provide health care tax credits linked to people's incomes - not their ages, like the House measure - and would provide billions for a fund for states to keep insurers from fleeing their markets.

"I expect to have a discussion draft on Thursday and we will go to the bill obviously once we get a CBO score - likely next week", McConnell told reporters Tuesday.

Spicer also said he didn't know if the president had seen a draft of the Senate bill. "While the Senate is talking about adjusting the House bill, it is still largely working with the same components which are quite unpopular".

"Republicans are writing their healthcare bill under the cover of darkness because they are ashamed of it", Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer charged. But as of now, victory is not guaranteed and he stopped short of definitely scheduling the vote for next week.

Just describing the process is enough to question whether we've passed through the looking glass and entered an alternative universe where up is down and utter secrecy is what passes for government transparency. Democrats have even suggested a scenario in which Senate debate begins on a preliminary version of the GOP measure and McConnell offers the final package as a late amendment, giving Democrats little or no time to criticize it.

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