Three weeks ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made what he considered his worst threat: if the Senate Republicans didn’t pass an Affordable Care Act repeal, they would have to work with Democrats on fixing it.
“If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement, then some kind of action with regard to the private health insurance market must occur,” McConnell said. “No action is not an alternative. We’ve got the insurance markets imploding all over the country, including in this state.”
Over-the-top rhetoric aside, it’s time to fulfill that promise. Insurance markets are NOT imploding all over the place, but popular vote loser Donald Trump is going to do his damnedest to make it happen.
Democrats are more than ready with their ideas for strengthening the ACA. Democratic leader Chuck Schumer laid out a few this morning, including resolving the issue of cost-sharing reduction payments that Trump has turned into a political football, and a reinsurance program to balance out the risk insurance companies take on with sicker patients. He pointed out that Republican Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander had already agreed to having committee meetings with his ranking member, Democratic Washington Sen. Patty Murray on some of this stuff. And while Sen. John McCain might not be the guy McConnell wants to listen to right now, he’s urging a return to a normal process here, working with Democrats, following last night’s drama. That’s something both Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski have been calling for, though McConnell probably doesn’t want to acknowledge their existence right now, either.
Over on the House side, a group of 40 bipartisan members has been quietly working on approaches for stabilizing the markets, recognizing that political unpredictability has been a major contributing factor to that instability.
It’s dawning on at least some Republicans that, yeah, they really do own this now. While many have to be breathing a massive sigh of relief after last night’s failure, most of them took that terrible vote to take health insurance away from millions, in both the House and Senate. They’re going to be blamed for spending months on trying to do that instead of protecting insurance if Obamacare markets continue to falter.