Health care bill being kept ‘secret’

Published 7:34 am Thursday, June 15, 2017

Dear Editor,

I stopped by Sen. Mitch McConnell’s Lexington office to request a copy of the Senate Health Care bill. I was advised that they did not have a copy. My request was emailed to the D.C. office, but I was advised they probably did not have a copy either. This legislation would affect 6 percent of our national economy and the senator’s staff and offices have not seen a copy.

It appears that a bill that most senators will not have read will be pushed onto the floor (bypassing committee and public hearings) for a vote by the end of June. Under the rules, the senate bill will require a CBO (Congressional Budget Office) report before it can be voted on. But if senators have not read the bill, how many will read and understand the CBO report?

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Although no one outside of the 13 male GOP senators working on the bill in closed door meetings knows for sure what is in the bill, there have been hints. Federal funding of the Medicaid expansion (that has helped 443,300 Kentuckians) would be phased out to end in 2023. Medicaid spending would be capped at current levels, forcing states to make deep cuts.

Insurers are the big winners as they will not have to offer “essential health benefits” starting in 2020 (like coverage for maternity care). Insurers can charge older people 5 times what they charge younger people. Individuals without health coverage for 63 days or more would face a 30 percent surcharge on premiums for a year, paid to the insurance company.

The tax increases that helped subsidize the ACA will be repealed and the tax credit structure would transfer federal resources from lower income and older Americans to younger and more affluent Americans.

The senate bill would defund Planned Parenthood, which provides health and cancer screenings to lower income men and women in Kentucky.

What is happening to our democracy when a bill that accounts for 6 percent of our economy is written in secret, with no input from women or Democrats, with no public hearing, and is rushed to the floor for a vote?

Our senator is the one leading this attack on the healthcare of the people of his own state. Call Sen. McConnell’s office at (502) 582-6304 today and voice your concern over this secret bill. Call Sen. Paul’s office at (270) 782-8303 and demand that he stand for democracy and vote against this secret bill.

Julie Pease