|By Amber Phillips|
|Republicans took another big step this week to change health care. I’m going to run down the politics of it, but let’s start with policy so we know what we mean when we say “Senate health-care bill.”
The bill Senate Republicans introduced this week doesn’t repeal Obamacare. But it does make a lot of changes that weaken Obamacare. Here are the biggies (more details here):
Here are the big unanswered questions about it
Will it pass? I’d say 50/50, mostly because the margin for error is slim.
What happens if it passes? Then it’s only halfway done. Republicans will have to square their Senate and House versions of the bill, either in a committee or with another vote. (Congress 101: You can’t send two different versions of the same bill to the president’s desk.)
What happens if it fails? Interesting question. Read on!
A character you should know: Mitch McConnell
Who is he: He’s the Senate majority leader and a Republican from Kentucky.
Why should I care about him? Well, he’s the most powerful lawmaker in the Senate. He also wrote the Senate’s health-care bill largely in secret and is now determined to see it passed, despite the numbers against him.
And if he fails? Eh, not the end of the world for him. Some of those who know McConnell best say he really does want to reform health care. But there’s a silver lining if it doesn’t work out: Health care’s really hard; it’s politically fraught. Senators can honestly say they tried, then move on to tax reform.
And of course, tax reform is neither really hard nor politically fraught at all. [end sarcasm]
Ironically, there are big political risks for Republicans to pass a reform they’ve been campaigning on (and winning on) for the better part of a decade.
Republicans’ version of health-care coverage will cut taxes for the wealthy and health insurance companies while lowering federal help for middle- and low-income and elderly Americans.
The idea is to spur economic growth, putting more money in people’s pockets to buy health care, and phasing poor people off the government’s health-care program, Medicaid. The end result will inevitably be that some people who like their health insurance and their premiums can’t keep it or have to pay more for less.
If people like it, great for Republicans. If they don’t, bad for Republicans. Potentially very bad.
After Democrats passed Obamacare, they lost 63 seats in the House of Representatives and haven’t had the majority since. It’s a dark warning for Republicans: If you pass a health-care bill people don’t like, you could own the consequences for years.