Momentum On GOP Health Care Reform Bill Set To Slow Down Significantly In The Senate

The American Health Care Act may have sailed through the House, but the Senate is another story.

congress-healthcare

In the end, the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act, the Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, in a remarkably short period of time. The bill was introduced to the public two months ago yesterday in mid-March, at which point it came under severe criticism from all sides. Democrats and many members of the public attacked the bill for the extent to which it would impact the more popular provisions of the PPACA, such as the provisions covering people with pre-existing conditions, the provisions that allowed children to remain on their parents’ policies up to age 26, and the expansion of Medicaid that gives access to healthcare coverage to people in tens of thousands in states that choose to take advantage of the expansion. This resulted in several weeks of raucous Congressional town halls at which Members of Congress, most of them Republicans, faced largely hostile audiences in events reminiscent of similar town halls in 2009 and 2010. In Congress itself, meanwhile, the bill faced pressures from both conservative Republicans who believed that the law didn’t go far enough and moderate Republicans who thought it went too far, especially concerning the aforementioned provisions of the PPACA. Further problems ensued when the Congressional Budget Office estimated that as many as 24 million people would lose coverage if the proposed bill became law and other economic analysis indicated that it would result in significant tax cuts for the wealthy while older people and people with pre-existing conditions would likely face increased premiums and deductibles that could price them out of health care coverage even if it was available for them. Because of this, the bill failed to garner enough support in the initial effort to pass it prior to the Easter recess and it seemed as though the effort was dead in the water. Behind the scenes, though, House Republicans continued working on the bill and managed to get enough support from both conservative and moderates to pass the bill last Thursday, albeit but the slimmest of all possible margins. The entire process took roughly 59 days and came on day 105 of Donald Trump’s Presidency.

As the Politico Playbook notes this morning, though, the process is likely to slow down significantly now that the bill is headed to the Senate:

The health-care hot potato is now in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) hands. But expect this phase of the fight to look much different than it did in the House. McConnell is a much different operator than House leaders. He’s calm and cool, and does not get rattled easily. He doesn’t really succumb to pressure. We expect the Senate is going to take its time cobbling together whatever Obamacare repeal bill it can — it could take many months, insiders tell us. We expect the process to unfold like this: the Senate takes a while, the House and Trump begin to get angry and lash out at the Senate. By the way, the House is out this week, the Senate is in session.

This observation comes just a day after one Republican Senator revealed that her colleagues plan to start from scratch on the issue and basically scrap the AHCA as it was passed by the House:

A Republican senator said on Sunday that her colleagues plan to “start from scratch” when the House’s American Health Care Act goes to the Senate.

Susan Collins of Maine said on ABC’s “This Week” that there are major questions surrounding the health care bill the House passed on Thursday. According to Collins, the bill, which is part of the GOP effort to repeal Obamacare, would undergo major surgery.

“First of all, the House bill is not going to come before us,” Collins said. “The Senate is starting from scratch. We’re going to draft our own bill. And I’m convinced that we’re going to take the time to do it right.”

Critics claim the new legislation could make health care unaffordable, cause people to lose coverage — which Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price denied on Sunday — and could go down as a major political blunder when the 2018 midterm elections roll around.

Collins was critical of the bill because she believed there were too many unknowns, noting that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) still hadn’t provided an analysis of the new bill, and she added that she would be troubled by a bill that would defund Planned Parenthood.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, the architect of the bill, claimed that Republicans had received two CBO scores for the current bill during his appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”

NBC News is only aware of one CBO score that the GOP had received for its health care legislation, and that was provided for an older version of the bill that failed to make it to the floor of Congress. That CBO score was published on March 13 — nearly two months ago.

(…)

Collins indicated that there would be a fair amount of “ironing.” When asked whether she would support the American Health Care Act as it stands today, she demurred.

“Speaker Ryan today said that he hoped that the Senate would improve the House bill,” Collins said. “I think we will do so and that we will come up with a whole new fresh approach that solves the legitimate flaws that do exist with the ACA, where we have seen, in some markets, insurers fleeing so people won’t be able to buy subsidized insurance. But it will keep some of the benefits of the ACA.”

None of this should really come as a surprise, of course. From the beginning of this process in the House, Senators on both sides of the aisle and from each side of the Senate GOP Caucus have been critical if not downright dismissive of the effort in the House of Representatives. The response from Senate Democrats, of course, is not at all unexpected and it’s unlikely that we’ll see any member of that caucus crossing the political aisle to help Republicans on this issue in any way. Within the GOP Caucus, meanwhile, the divisions are not dissimilar to those that the bill faced in the House, with conservatives such as Rand Paul and Mike Lee pushing for alternatives even more conservative than the demands that were made by the House Freedom Caucus and more moderate members like Collins voicing many of the same concerns as the House moderates of the so-called Tuesday Morning Group. Additionally, as I’ve mentioned before, many Senators have expressed concerns about changes that might be made to the Medicaid expansion provided for by the PPACA that would significantly increase the costs borne by the States and potentially throw many people out of the market for insurance and thus unable to afford health care treatment altogether. In Ohio alone, one report suggests that the AHCA as passed by the House could cost the state between $16 and $22 billion in Federal Medicaid funding and result in three-quarters of a million people losing Medicaid coverage. It is because of this that Ohio Senator Rob Portman, a Republican, recently voiced his concerns with the House bill. Portman has also been named as part of a group of conservative and moderate Republicans who reportedly are already talking informally about drafting their own alternative to the AHCA. In addition to these concerns, the House bill will likely face an early test in the Senate over whether or not it can be considered under the expedited debate and voting rules known as reconciliation that allow a bill that meets certain budgetary criteria to pass the Senate with a simple majority rather than first needing to pass the sixty-vote cloture threshold. As I’ve said before if the AHCA fails to meet the test for reconciliation then it is already dead on arrival in the Senate. If it does, it’s likely to make it through the Senate in name only and that what will emerge will be something significantly different from what the House voted on last week.

One point worth remembering in all of this is that what we’re likely to see unfold here is a great example of the Senate fulfilling the purpose that the Founding Fathers intended for it when the Constitution was drafted and being considered for adoption. During the 1787 Constitutional Convention, there was great concerning vesting significant power in a Congress that was close to the people lest it be subject to popular passions and whims that, based on the influence of writers such as Locke and Montesquieu as well as the historical record, the Founders wished to avoid. As a result, Article One of the Constitution places significant limits on what Congress can and cannot do. Further limits were established by the Bill of Rights. Additionally, in addition to creating a branch of the legislature that was directly elected by the people in Congressional Districts, the Founders created a Senate that was meant to represent the wider electorate of the individual states. At first, the makeup of the Senate was comprised of members chosen by state legislatures, but that changed in the early 20th Century when the 17th Amendment was adopted as part of a series of reforms inspired by the “Progressive” movement of the time. Despite the change in how Senators are selected, the purpose of the Senate has remained largely the same, and we’ve seen several examples, both for good and for ill, where the Senate slowed down the progression of a measure passed by the House, if not stopped it entirely.

That seems to be what is likely to happen with health care reform, and while Republicans may complain they ought to take solace in the fact that the Senate is doing exactly what the Founders intended for it. Given that they are such strict Constitutionalists, they should like that. Right? Right? Bueller?

FILED UNDER: Congress, Donald Trump, Health Care, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    I have zero faith in Susan Collins. Collins loves to play maverick, but always rolls over like a good, little Republican. She’s only making noise to get her requisite TV exposure. But she’s spineless.

  2. Mr. Bluster says:

    Locke and Montesque

    There are two Senators in my lifetime that first come to mind that rejected the noted “popular passions and whims” when it mattered.

    Morse and Gruening

    Not that it made much difference.
    58220

  3. michael reynolds says:

    @Mr. Bluster:
    William Fulbright acquitted himself well, too, though later.

  4. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    This isn’t a Health Care bill…it’s Tax Cut legislation.
    Very telling that Republicans have to lie thru their teeth about what the bill does in order to support it.
    No one will get tossed of Medicaid.
    Pre-existing conditions are covered.
    Deductibles and Premiums will come down.
    Mendacious mother-f’ers.

  5. Mr. Bluster says:

    @michael reynolds:..I will have to add the late Sen. Paul Simon (D-IL) to the list. His tome Our Culture of Pandering should be required reading for aspiring politicos.
    Disclosure: Senator Simon lived down the road apiece from my hovel here in Makanda Township. I ran in to him and his family frequently at the local market.
    I regret to this day that I never asked him to sign my copy of the US Constitution before he died.

  6. MarkedMan says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I have zero faith in Susan Collins. Collins loves to play maverick, but always rolls over like a good, little Republican.

    You are dead on.

  7. MarkedMan says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    Very telling that Republicans have to lie thru their teeth about what the bill does in order to support it.

    Price is now saying, with a straight face, that cutting $880B from Medicaid won’t reduce it in any way.

    The modern Republican Party is little more than the Party of Lies.

  8. al-Alameda says:

    Unfortunately for Democrats ‘moderate’ Republicans are the only game in town.

    As we saw in the case of the comparatively low-stakes cabinet nomination of Betsy DeVos, only 2 ‘moderate’ Republicans crossed over to vote with Democrats to deny her appointment, and ultimately VP Pence broke a 50-50 tie You’d have thought that another ‘moderate’ Republican would have had the backbone to join Collins and Murkowski to turn Trump and DeVos down on this one. Evidently not.

    This is a very high-stakes situation, and I’m hoping that that matters to senate Republicans, however, I do not believe that ‘moderate’ Republicans can be counted on mitigate the damage.

  9. Mr. Bluster says:
  10. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    How about Comb-over Donnie trying to intimidate Sally Yates ahead of her testimony before Congress?
    Pretty outrageous behavior from someone who would have you believe he has nothing to fear…

  11. SenyorDave says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: Someone on CNN said it sounded like witness intimidation. Apparently the whole panel was outraged by his tweets. In other news, someone was shocked to find out there was illegal gambling goin on.

  12. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Collins loves to play maverick, but always rolls over like a good, little Republican.

    Reminds me of someone else. McCoy? McClain? Something like that.

  13. S. Fields says:

    From Doug:

    That seems to be what is likely to happen with health care reform, and while Republicans may complain they ought to take solace in the fact that the Senate is doing exactly what the Founders intended for it. Given that they are such strict Constitutionalists, they should like that. Right? Right? Bueller?

    I don’t know that Republicans will complain while the Senate takes their time with their version. That was the purpose of the Rose Garden party last week, wasn’t it? For the sizable numbers of their base who barely pay attention, the claim that Obamacare repeal and replace was successfully completed by the House last week will ring true. So, the GOP gets the symbolic victory that serves the exact end as the 60+ repeal votes taken previously, though this time there’s a WH ceremony to demonstrate Change is Here. The Republicans get to claim they won.

    Meanwhile, the real consequences of most of what they passed are deferred while the Senate comes up with something else. They really don’t want to catch this car they’ve been chasing and I suspect a handful of GOP Senators have figured that out. Now that the ACA has fairly firmly established in the public mind that healthcare is a basic civic right, standing opposed to Obamacare is only beneficial rhetorically. Once some GOP plan for Trumpcare is law, whatever heinous thing that will be (because truly what the GOP wants is impossible to square with what they say they want), then real people with real tragedies due to the new policy will emerge. It will not play well on TV; I promise you.

    If the Republicans were smart, the Senate would take well into early 2018 to complete their bill, then they’d hold up conference negotiations until after the mid-terms. (There’s no telling if the Republicans will be that smart, though.)

  14. SenyorDave says:

    OT, but meanwhile we haveave this:

    Sister of Jared Kushner reportedly pitches US visa in exchange for $500G investment

    I GOT THIS FROM THE FOX NEWS WEBSITE. At least its official now. The sister of Trump’s most trusted adviser is selling US visas for investment in Kushner family firms.

  15. Erik says:

    @S. Fields: also, since if the bill gets anywhere in the senate there will be significant changes, the Republicans will blame anything the base doesn’t like on those damn Democrats that wouldn’t let them pass it as written by the Glorious and True Americans (TM) in the House Republican caucus. This will happen even if the disliked portions are unchanged from the House version

  16. Stormy Dragon says:

    @SenyorDave:

    At least its official now.

    It’s been official for 27 years: EB-5 Visa

  17. SenyorDave says:

    @Stormy Dragon: The program Meyer flouted in the presentation Saturday is called the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program. It allows wealthy foreign investors who are willing to invest large sums in U.S. projects that create jobs to apply to immigrate to the U.S., according to The Post.

    You don’t have a problem with the sister of Kushner cashing in on her WH ties? Because that’s what is happening here, according to ethics lawyers. The obvious implication is invest with us, we’ll make sure you get your immigrant visa because we have ACCESS.

  18. Jack says:

    @S. Fields:

    Now that the ACA has fairly firmly established in the public mind that healthcare is a basic civic right, standing opposed to Obamacare is only beneficial rhetorically. Once some GOP plan for Trumpcare is law, whatever heinous thing that will be (because truly what the GOP wants is impossible to square with what they say they want), then real people with real tragedies due to the new policy will emerge. It will not play well on TV; I promise you.

    Bull squeeze. Liberals are touting this as women and children will be dying in the streets if it ever gets passed and everyone knows that is hyperbole at its finest. This reminds me of the crap Democrats spouted after Welfare Reform.

    Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) described the welfare reform legislation as “child abuse.”

    Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-Oklahoma) called it “the most brutal act of social policy since Reconstruction.”

    The president of the Children’s Defense Fund, Marian Wright Edelman, called the welfare reform bills “fatally flawed, callous, anti-child assaults.” She said the bills “eviscerate the moral compact between the nation and its children and its poor.”

    Peter Edelman, a Clinton administration staffer who resigned to protest the welfare reform law, wrote in The Atlantic that it would “move 2.6 million people, including 1.1 million children, into poverty…. There will be more malnutrition and more crime, increased infant mortality, and increased drug and alcohol abuse. There will be increased family violence and abuse against children and women.”

    Meanwhile, infant mortality, crime, and domestic violence all declined.

    The warnings from 20 years ago against throwing poor mothers and children off welfare and into the streets all sound a lot like today’s warning against throwing Americans off their subsidized health insurance. In both cases, the flawed assumption is that once a federal program is ended, the people who were benefiting from it will be unable to come up with another way to meet their unfilled needs.

    Just as the cost of long distance calling, computers, cell phones, laptops, flat panel/LED TVs, Blue Ray Players, etc., have all come down due to free market competition, so too will healthcare if government gets the hell out of the way and lets the market work its magic.

  19. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    @Jack: Underwriters are just waiting (salivating) to eliminate the medical loss ratio. Woo Hoo free market

  20. Jack says:

    @Bob @ Youngstown: Is there a home owner’s insurance loss ratio minimum that is demanded by the government? How about a car insurance loss ratio minimum demanded by the government?

  21. S. Fields says:

    @Jack:

    If the decision to buy a TV, laptop, or cell phone were remotely similar to the decision to receive cancer treatments or not, then your free market boosterism would make sense here. But it’s not the same and so it doesn’t.

    Bull squeeze indeed! Idiot!

  22. Jack says:

    @S. Fields:

    If the decision to buy a TV, laptop, or cell phone were remotely similar to the decision to receive cancer treatments or not, then your free market boosterism would make sense here. But it’s not the same and so it doesn’t.

    Obamacare demands that we buy insurance, and it has nothing to do with actual medical care received. you know it, I know it.

    Prices on everything goes down once the government gets out of the way.

  23. MarkedMan says:

    @Jack:

    Prices on everything goes down once the government gets out of the way.

    No. They don’t. And if you don’t know enough of history to know what absolute nonsense that statement is, then there is no point in arguing with you.

  24. Tyrell says:

    Can someone explain why those epipens for allergy emergencies cost around $600 ? And the hospitals charge $350 for those plastic water pitchers ? And anti-venom for a snakebite is over $1000.
    5-0: “book ’em, Dan -O”

  25. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    @Jack:

    Is there a home owner’s insurance loss ratio minimum that is demanded by the government?

    Do you have the remotest idea what the medical loss ratio is ?

  26. S. Fields says:

    @Jack:

    If the decision to buy a TV, laptop, or cell phone were remotely similar to the decision to buy health insurance or not, then your free market boosterism would make sense here. But it’s not the same and so it doesn’t.

    Yep, my argument still applies and you’re still an idiot.

  27. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan:

    The modern Republican Party is little more than the Party of Lies.

    Jonathan Chait’s 2007 book The Big Con summed up the basic situation:

    Yet, as will become clear, the fact remains that dishonesty has become integral to the Republican economic agenda in a way that it is not to the Democratic agenda. The reason is not that Republicans are individually less honest than Democrats. Far from it. It is simply that the GOP, and the conservative movement, have embraced an economic agenda far out of step with the majority of the voting public. Republicans simply can’t win office or get their plans enacted into law, without fundamentally misleading the public. Lying has become a systematic necessity.

    What’s ironic is that in the 10 years since those words were written, the GOP’s agenda has grown substantially less popular. Bush passed tax cuts for rich people, but he also passed middle-class tax cuts and pursued programs such as Medicare D and immigration reform. Since Bush left office, his party has more or less abandoned every aspect of his domestic agenda that was popular. They don’t have anything left in their economic platform to lure voters with (and that’s not to mention the dramatic public shift on social issues such as SSM), so they have nothing to do but lie.

    This fact got a little muddled after the passage of Obamacare due to all those polls suggesting the law was unpopular. Naturally, Republicans seized on these polls (while ignoring polling for virtually all other issues). While those polls were always misleading (they usually lumped together voters who wanted to repeal Obamacare with those who wanted it expanded, and almost all of the law’s individual provisions polled well from the start), the fact is that now they’ve become useless, because the law is now officially popular. The GOP’s last remaining excuse is gone: their entire economic agenda is deeply unpopular, and their #1 strategy is to lie about it.

  28. Stormy Dragon says:

    @SenyorDave:

    The program Meyer flouted in the presentation Saturday is called the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program.

    Did you even bother to read my comment? I’m pretty sure I don’t need EB-5 visas explained since I linked to the Wikipedia page on them IN THE COMMENT YOU WERE RESPONDING TO.

    I am disturbed by it. I’m just pointing out that it’s not new. Scam “investment firms” with political ties have been going overseas with the same pitch since the program was created.

  29. teve tory says:

    @MarkedMan: I remember when pay phones still existed and the mean ol gummint was regulating the price at 25c for a local call. Then the mean ol stupid-head gummint got out of the way and stopped regulating that, and every payphone in Raleigh immediately doubled or tripled in price.

    Thanks Obama. 🙁

  30. teve tory says:

    @Tyrell:

    Can someone explain why those epipens for allergy emergencies cost around $600 ? And the hospitals charge $350 for those plastic water pitchers ? And anti-venom for a snakebite is over $1000.

    what do those things cost in Canada, or the UK, or France, I wonder?

  31. Pch101 says:

    @Jack:

    Prices on everything goes down once the government gets out of the way.

    It’s not a question of whether you were dropped on your head as a child, but of how often it happened and how much your parents enjoyed doing it.

  32. Yank says:

    @Pch101: Sad thing about Jack’s statement. There are actually congressman who agree with him.

  33. Eric Florack says:

    What, no cries of “The party of “no””?

  34. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Eric Florack:

    What, no cries of “The party of “no””?

    Yeah…NO health care for you unless you are rich.

  35. Tony W says:

    @Jack:

    so too will healthcare if government gets the hell out of the way and lets the market work its magic.

    Looking forward to hearing how your phone calls around to different ambulance companies goes while you lay bleeding on the street.

  36. MarkedMan says:

    @teve tory:

    Then the mean ol stupid-head gummint got out of the way and stopped regulating that, and every payphone in Raleigh immediately doubled or tripled in price.

    This is a good example of a lot of things in play at the same time, and a demonstration of how complicated the real world is. The telephone system in the US became a monopoly in the early twentieth century. This is actually not unusual for things that people depend on, since once one player gains strength, they can use that strength to crush the competition. In the case of phone service, once AT&T had a monopoly position in the market they dictated that all phones, wires and plug outlets had to be “rented” from them or their subsidiaryies, that no one could connect anything to the phone line in the house but an agent of AT&T (this became important during the early days of the personal computer revolution since telephone modems were used to connect to virtually any network from home). Since they were a monopoly, the anti-trust acts allowed the government to break them up, but this was considered very difficult, since it was important that all phones could call all other phones. If you had multiple companies, their equipment might not work with each other. So instead of breaking them up, the government granted them special status and limited their prices for certain services. People born after 1995 may be surprised to find that it cost the equivalent of a dollar or more a minute just to call 50 miles outside of your very modest (sometimes 10-20 miles) local calling area. And the equivalent of $10 to $20 a minute to call a foreign country. And it could cost the equivalent of hundreds of dollars a month to connect a “car phone” to the system. Local rates were regulated, and pay phones were regulated, but ‘long distance’ was not nearly as regulated. Perhaps the most important regulation was that all homes had to be provided access to phone service, crucial to rural areas where it was not very profitable to run and maintain telephone wires, poles and switching stations.

    So we had the odd case that in one sense the US had the best phone system in the world. You could move into a new house and have the phones connected in a day or two. I had French friends that waited literally months or years for connection from their national system. But in another sense we had an incredibly backward system. Those same French friends, once they had a phone, could rent a terminal at a modest price that acted as the WWW many years before even a home computer was popular. At the same time in the US, touch tone phones were considered a luxury and cost significantly more to rent than the standard rotary phones.

    Finally the pressure to break up the very hated phone company was too much. (And I do mean hated: imagine if every single household in the US had Comcast circa 2005 as their only means to communicate short of writing a letter. There were comedians who made their careers by mocking Ma Bell’s service department.) But that meant a lot of new regulations. Because if they let the smaller entities, the “Baby Bells”, do whatever they wanted to, they could go back to their old ways and deny a competitor the ability to connect to their lines, or charge such outlandish rates for a call outside their area that you would have to take out a loan to call Aunt Effie after her gallbladder surgery. So some rules came off, and voila, payphones cost a fortune, but many, many new regulations were written. And with all the experts working for the monopoly, it took a lot of smart hard work by government regulators to ensure the system still worked and benefited from the consumers. So today we have people under twenty-five who are not really sure what “long distance” means and expect to pay a modest monthly fee and be able to talk to anyone in the US for as long as they want on their internet connected mobile phone.

    Our health care system, on the other hand, is a lot, lot more complicated.

  37. gVOR08 says:

    Off topic, but what the hey, it’s an ongoing topic. I see, via Eschaton, that in his testimony last week our FBI Director, upright model of non-partisan probity that he is, continued his habit of painting trivial, innocent actions by Hillary and her aides in as bad a light as possible.

    According to two sources familiar with the matter — including one in law enforcement — Abedin forwarded only a handful of Clinton emails to her husband for printing — not the “hundreds and thousands” cited by Comey. It does not appear Abedin made “a regular practice” of doing so.

    And,

    When agents obtained a search warrant that allowed them to read the messages, they turned out to be mostly duplicates of emails the bureau had obtained earlier in the investigation. Comey announced just before Election Day that nothing had changed in the Clinton case, which had been closed four months earlier without criminal charges (emphasis mine)

    As anyone with a lick of sense and no axe to grind would have expected.

    And the investigation of Russian influence is in his hands.

  38. Pch101 says:

    The US has the highest healthcare costs in the world.

    The US has the highest healthcare costs in the world because it avoids doing what other countries do to save money: using “socialized” buying power to buy medical services in bulk, which pushes down costs.

    It’s actually not very complicated. But some folks aren’t smart enough to get it.

  39. SenyorDave says:

    @Pch101: It also is the only country with massive for-profit insurance companies with layers of incredibly wasteful management (I used to work for one for many years in Finance). These costs end up being part of our health care costs. Apparently the GOP hates the government bureaucracy, but loves them some private bureaucracy. I guess they haven’t figured out a way to get campaign contributions directly from the government. But I’m sure Trump has already worked that part out.

  40. Moosebreath says:

    @gVOR08:

    Funny, but the same people in the national press who said Comey had a duty to update his testimony to Congress 10 days before a Presidential election seem very quiet on his duty to update Congress now.

  41. JohnMcC says:

    @Jack: I dunno about you but if I read in some document that Daniel Patrick Moynihan was a Senator from Oklahoma, I’d hide it under my bed between the Playboy magazines and hope Mom never sees it. You on the other hand….

  42. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    I guarantee you that
    @Jack:
    doesn’t know anything about what Trumpcare does and/or doesn’t do.
    He doesn’t care. He is signed on to the cult, is gulping down the kool-aid. Like a mangy mutt, as long as his Cheeto-Jebus keeps tossing him red meat to gnaw on he’s happy. People like Jack are the ones Don the Con was talking about when he said:

    I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters

    People like Jack have been conned, and they like it. The last thing they will ever do is admit that they were foolish enough to be taken in by Comb-over Donnie.

  43. al-Alameda says:

    @Jack:

    Just as the cost of long distance calling, computers, cell phones, laptops, flat panel/LED TVs, Blue Ray Players, etc., have all come down due to free market competition, so too will healthcare if government gets the hell out of the way and lets the market work its magic.

    The free market is the primary reason why we have by far the most costly and inefficient health care system of any advanced country in the world.

    Over 3 decades ago our overall healthcare expenditures were 5% of GDP today it is approximately 17%, while in those other advanced nations the ration to GDP is about 10%. Also, our pay-to-play system has led us to a place where we have millions of uninsured (which Republicans clearly are not serious about) and medical health outcomes that are less or lower than in many other countries.

  44. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Tyrell: Because Epipens are sold in a basically unregulated market where they are, usually, paid for by health insurance providers who are willing to bear that price structure–except that they really don’t, they buy them at a discount and tell you what the “full price” is on your benefits statement.

    As Senator Manchin’s daughter–CEO of the company that produces Epipens–noted in her testimony to Congress, “I’m running a business.”

  45. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @al-Alameda:
    @Jack:

    Just as the cost of long distance calling, computers, cell phones, laptops, flat panel/LED TVs, Blue Ray Players, etc., have all come down due to free market competition, so too will healthcare if government gets the hell out of the way and lets the market work its magic.

    The idea that health care is, or can be, a free market is among the stupidest things Jack has ever copied and pasted from the people who tell him what to think.
    In a free market (if such a thing actually exists) goods and services are exchanged thru transactions based on mutual consent. No one is forced to buy from anyone. No one is forced to buy anything at all. Should I have a heart attack or be hit by a car or be struck by cancer, or whatever, I am in no position to shop for the best provider of health services at the most reasonable price. All personal choice is lost. Whatever happens next, it will not be a market transaction.
    So what the people who tell Jack what to think are saying, is that we should all live and die without the advantage of Modern Medicine.
    Simply the adoption of insurance eliminates the possibility of a free market because now there is a third party involved and the patient has given up their negotiating power and decision making to a corporation that has interests that are different than theirs.
    It’s amazing the stupid shit that Jacks thinkers actually believe.
    But not surprising that he isn’t smart enough to know how stupid he is.

  46. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Finally the pressure to break up the very hated phone company was too much. (And I do mean hated: imagine if every single household in the US had Comcast circa 2005 as their only means to communicate short of writing a letter. There were comedians who made their careers by mocking Ma Bell’s service department.)

    You mean like these two?

  47. Mr. Bluster says:

    @MarkedMan:..we had the odd case that in one sense the US had the best phone system in the world…But in another sense we had an incredibly backward system.

    It should be noted that the anti-trust suit that led to the divestiture of the Bell System was initiated by the Justice Department under the Republican President Gerald Ford.

    The UnitedStates Department of Justice filed an antitrust suit against the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) on November 20, 1974.
    http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1064&context=btlj

    As a point of information it is also noted that while AT+T and it’s 22 operating companies were a virtual monopoly there were many Independent telephone companies operating in 1983 that were never owned by “Ma Bell”.
    See General Telephone, Continental Telephone, Central Telephone and others.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_telephone_company

    (A nit to pick. In the parlance of telephony a “station” is the telephone instrument. Main station, extension station, pay station aka pay phone. In 35 years of working in the landline telephone industry in 14 states for several Telephone Companies I never heard of a switching station.
    The facility was a central office, exchange building, wire center, the switch or a remote unit.)

  48. Pch101 says:

    @SenyorDave:

    The purpose of insurance is to sell risk protection that is mitigated by discouraging the policy holder from using the product.

    Car insurers don’t sell policies to encourage you to wreck your car. Life insurers don’t sell you a policy because they want to motivate you to have a death wish. Use your car insurance frequently enough or behave in ways that elevate your risk profile, and you’ll find your policy cancelled.

    Insurance has no place in healthcare. We don’t want to encourage hypochondria, but we should want people to seek treatment when they need it and to not conceal the need from the insurer.

    We should have benefits administrators, not insurers per se. In essence, it should be a customer service operation that includes a mechanism for preventing abuse by hypochondriacs and providers who try to milk the system.

  49. MarkedMan says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker: I think you have a problem with the link in there. But the most famous comedian/actor I know that rode resentment of Ma Bell to fame and fortune was Lily Tomlin.

  50. MarkedMan says:

    @Mr. Bluster:

    there were many Independent telephone companies operating in 1983 that were never owned by “Ma Bell”.

    That’s really interesting. In your link, it talks about the early days of these independents, and at that point I assume they were completely separate from AT&T except for long distance. How did it work later on? And were they only in rural or low density areas, as the article seems to imply?

  51. MarkedMan says:

    @gVOR08:

    Off topic, but what the hey, it’s an ongoing topic. I see, via Eschaton, that in his testimony last week our FBI Director, upright model of non-partisan probity that he is, continued his habit of painting trivial, innocent actions by Hillary and her aides in as bad a light as possible.

    He did more then paint them in a bad light, he out and out lied about what she did. She had said she only forwarded a small number of non classified emails to her husband in order to print them out. He said she forwarded hundreds of thousands of emails. But according to this, there was less than a dozen. Which is basically what Abedin said. And by saying she had deliberately forwarded those hundreds of thousands, he also painted her as a liar when she said she didn’t know how they got onto his computer. He left out the part that they weren’t in his email (except for those dozen). It seems the FBI has known from the beginning that they weren’t forwarded, but instead were part of an automatic backup when she connected her BlackBerry to his computer. So when she said she was unaware that they were on there, we could assume she is horrible liar who was going around with evil intent to… I don’t know, connect her blackberry to her husband’s computer in order to bring down democracy… somehow… , or we could assume that she didn’t realize that connecting her blackberry to a computer was causing there to be a local cache created.

    It is interesting how Comey was in such a hurry to supplement the record before the election, so hurried, in fact, that he interfered at the 11th hour in favor of the Republicans, but in this case where he clearly “misspoke” in a way that made a few Democrats look incredibly bad, he seems to be taking his time in correcting the record, if he ever had any intention of correcting it in the first place, before he got caught. Will he also apologize to Huma Abedin for smearing her in a highly watched congressional hearing? My personal opinion is that he won’t. Apologizing to someone so hated by the Republican money men would seriously hurt his job and speaking fee prospects when it’s time to cash in.

    I think it’s sad that people like OTB’s James will probably see this as “honest mistake” from a “decent man of integrity”, while still interpreting everything Abedin (or Clinton) did in the most heinous light possible. And if I am wrong about his reaction, then I absolutely will apologize. It is only what a decent man of integrity would do…

  52. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan: There does seem sometimes to be a circular; he wouldn’t do that because he’s a good man, he’s a good man because he wouldn’t do that. Ignoring that he did do that.

  53. Tyrell says:

    Related news: medical researchers at SW Texas Medical school have accidently stumbled on a cure for baldness !
    This involves some sort of cell restructuring and cell therapy.
    Wouldn’t you like to get in on the ground floor of that ! Hopefully the ACA (or the TCA ) will cover it. Either way, some people are going to get insanely rich. Hot d_ _ _ !
    See also The Helsinki Hair Institute for information about baldness.

  54. wr says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “Scam “investment firms” with political ties have been going overseas with the same pitch since the program was created.”

    Yes, but for the most part they weren’t run by the immediate family of the president’s closest advisors — who just happen to be the immediate family of the president.

  55. Kylopod says:

    @Tyrell:

    Related news: medical researchers at SW Texas Medical school have accidently stumbled on a cure for baldness !

    Jack may be the dumbest commenter here, but you’re clearly the most gullible.

  56. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Tyrell:

    Related news: medical researchers at SW Texas Medical school have accidently stumbled on a cure for baldness !

    Well, the orange blob in the White House should be happy….

  57. Kylopod says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: What do you mean?! Trump isn’t bald! Nobody has more hair than he does. Everybody knows it’s the biggest, bigliest hair in the history of the United States, biglier than you would know.

  58. Grewgills says:

    OT, but now the Senate will have to confirm a new FBI director as well. Any bets on Giuliani as the new director? Any bets on how long the FBI will continue it’s Trump Russia probe?

  59. Tyrell says:

    @Kylopod: This was the result of medical research concerning treatment of tumors and they stumble on the baldness connection. So they get a 2 for 1 deal. And this is not some sales pitch from the late night advertising infomercial or out of the Sunday newspaper dog itch creme ad page. This came from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Research Center. A few years ago a scientist at one of the big ivy league school said that the key to curing baldness would be some sort of cell manipulation. So they knew the area to look in. Now they have it, even though accidentally.
    Next challenge: regrowth of teeth.