On Capitol Hill, opposition to the Republican healthcare bill is growing, as an increasing number of Republican senators come out against their party’s plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The bill is facing criticism both from Republicans who say the bill includes too many cuts to Medicaid, as well as from those who say it doesn’t go far enough to gut the Affordable Care Act. So far, five Republicans currently say they will not support the bill as written: Nevada Senator Dean Heller, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Utah Senator Mike Lee and Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who called for the vote on the bill to be postponed.
Sen. Ron Johnson: “There’s no way we should be voting on this next week, no way. There’s no way”—
Chuck Todd: “Are you going to work to stop it?”
Sen. Ron Johnson: “Folks in Wisconsin”—
Chuck Todd: “Are you going to work to stop a vote next week?”
Sen. Ron Johnson: “I have—I have—I have a hard time believing Wisconsin constituents, or even myself, will have enough time to properly evaluate this, for me to vote for a motion to proceed. So I’ve been encouraging leadership, the White House, anybody I can talk to, for quite some time, let’s not rush this process.”
Republicans have been pushing for a vote on the bill this week, ahead of the July 4 recess. The Republican healthcare plan would remove millions of low-income and disabled people from Medicaid, cut subsidies to purchase health insurance, allow states to effectively eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and defund Planned Parenthood for a year. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the bill would also give $33 billion in tax cuts to the 400 wealthiest U.S. households. It’s facing opposition not only from some Republican senators, but also from all Senate Democrats, a slew of governors from both parties, the majority of the healthcare industry, hospitals, doctors, nurses, patient advocacy groups, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and even members of the far-right Koch brothers’ political network, who claim the legislation is not sufficiently conservative. Over the weekend, progressive groups held “don’t take our health care” rallies in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Charleston, West Virginia; and Columbus, Ohio, where Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders called the Republicans’ plan “beyond comprehension.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “And while 28 million people are uninsured, this bill will throw an additional 23 million people off of the healthcare they have, raising the total of uninsured in America to over 50 million people. This is literally beyond comprehension, it is unconscionable, and it must not be allowed to happen.”
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and others are calling for a single-payer healthcare system, also known as “Medicare for All.” A recent poll by the Pew Research Center shows support for single payer is growing, with a full third of Americans in favor of a national single-payer system.
However, on Friday, California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon shelved a proposal to establish a single-payer system across California, saying the bill will not be voted on this year.