Two Republican men in the U.S. Senate commanded my respect for their competence and their character, Lindsey Graham and John McCain. Now I am down to one. Lindsey Graham stated that he would not go along with the disreputable process of throwing in this goodie and that for particular states into legislation just to get their senators on board for a party line vote. He wanted "regular order," which means a deliberative process of committee hearings, consideration of amendments and careful study, followed by a costing-out of the effect of the bill by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
The current process for Graham-Cassidy violates all of that. Under the current bill, 48 states face massive cuts in Medicaid funding, including Maryland. Two do not, in what is an attempt to get two women senators on board for this otherwise party line vote to finally fulfill the seven-year pledge to repeal Obamacare. Those conservatives who say the bill is "fair to all states" (see Saturday's Times) conveniently ignore this huge imbalance. Our Republican governor has noticed it, however, big time.
The whole kerfuffle is to remove the embarrassment of that unfulfilled seven-year political promise. More specifically it is widely reported that the Republican donor class is furious. They really wanted those Obamacare taxes on the wealthy lifted.
There is a saying, "An honest politician is one who when bought, stays bought." Thus far the current Republican regime hasn't delivered that tax cut yet that their wealthy donors were paying for.
If this bill were to pass into law and be signed by the president then millions of Americans would lose health care. Many would die prematurely. However, the Republicans would be wiped out in the 2018 congressional election.
Obamacare is flawed. It is flawed because it is a system based on a plan offered by the conservative Heritage Foundation with the explicit purpose to keep the private insurance companies in charge of health care insurance.
Despite this Republican doctrine that private industry must be involved in the health insurance process all the facts say the opposite. The parts of our health care process that work well are Medicare and Medicaid. The parts that cause all the problems are the insurance exchanges, the involuntary involvement of employers, the penalty levied on those who choose or are forced by circumstance not to get insurance and the ever-increasing premiums, deductibles and co-pays. No other nation on earth depends as heavily as we do on private health insurance companies. We spend twice as much per person on health care than any other nation on earth. You could look it up.
Ironically enough the payment plans that cause the least distress are Medicare and Medicaid, tax-supported and federal government administered with minimal involvement of nongovernmental payment mechanisms.
They tell the story dating back to the 1800s about the backwoods farmer who visited the big city for the first time. He went to the zoo. When he came across the giraffe enclosure he stared and stared at the extraordinary species. Finally he shook his head and said to no one in particular, "There ain't no such animal!"
We can forgive that mythical agriculturist for his disbelief based on his limited life experience. But in this era of internet and cellphones, the Republican refusal to face undeniable facts about health insurance is less forgivable. Party doctrine blinds them to obvious truth. Or maybe it is the loss of the tax cut for the wealthy that really upsets them.
In any case the current betting is that the bill will fail — again. We can all be grateful for three Republican senators who put the public good over the party promise. That takes guts.