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Monday, July 24, 2017


Legislative malpractice

by Tom Sullivan

Still from Roanoke Times video (below).

"Health care in the United States is pathetic ... when you don't have the insurance, you don't have the access." — Dr. Teresa Tyson, Executive Director of the Health Wagon
The Affordable Care Act needs reforming, Dr. Teresa Tyson told the Roanoke Times. Repealing it is not an option. Tyson's team was treating patients at the annual Remote Area Medical free clinic weekend in Wise, Virginia. Obamacare is by no means the full answer to the health care crisis in this country, but it was an improvement. An improvement that needs improvement. Instead, Sen. Mitch McConnell means to roll it back.

This year's RAM clinic weekend in Wise, Virginia crept up on me. I didn't make the trip up as I did last year. But since McConnell and his band plan to try repealing Obamacare again this week, perhaps the timing and the little press it receives will open some eyes to what they mean to do. President Trump himself used that word, even as his administration was sabotaging the Obamacare program.
"Mr. Trump really needed to be here ... There’s been absolutely no change in the number of people that come to these events since the day I started it in the United States ... We are number 37 in the World Health Organization's rankings." — Stan Brock, Remote Area Medical founder
Stan Brock has held these free clinics in Wise for 18 years, the Roanoke Times reports. Most come for dental care covered as a luxury extra under most insurance, including the Obamacare exchange plans:
Located near the Virginia- Kentucky border, the clinic at the Wise County Fairgrounds attracts residents from a wide area. The clinic, the largest of the year, has 1,400 volunteers who serve thousands of people in one weekend.

At 5 a.m. Friday — the first day of the clinic — RAM founder and British philanthropist Stan Brock stood at the entrance of the clinic as volunteers prepared to let people through the gate.

Hundreds arrived at the fairgrounds in the dead of the night to secure a decent spot in line. They slept in their cars or pitched tents as they waited for the clinic gates to open. Before the sun crested the surrounding mountains, volunteers had given out all of the numbers for the day and began turning people away.
On the heels of this, Reuters reports that McConnell's procedural vote to repeal Obamacare could come as early as Tuesday. In what conforms to a pattern of legislative malpractice by McConnell, his caucus doesn't yet know on what legislation they will be voting.

The Associated Press report wasn't any more specific:
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will make a decision soon on which bill to bring up for a vote, depending on ongoing discussions with GOP senators. Thune sought to cast this week's initial vote as important but mostly procedural, allowing senators to begin debate and propose amendments. But he acknowledged that senators should be able to know beforehand what bill they will be considering.

"That's a judgment that Senator McConnell will make at some point this week before the vote," Thune said, expressing his own hope it will be a repeal-and-replace measure. "But no matter which camp you're in, you can't have a debate about either unless we get on the bill. So we need a 'yes' vote."
Meanwhile, USA Today reports that thousands of Catholic nuns have written a letter to senators urging them to reject the Republican effort as "immoral and contrary to the teachings of our Catholic faith." The letter signed by over 7,000 sisters insists senators vote against advancing "any bill that would repeal the ACA and cut Medicaid." The report states that Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine are both Catholics. Both are cited as undecided on the measures under consideration.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) might also be independent enough from his caucus to play a roll in defeating any bill McConnell brings to the Senate floor. Sens. Dean Heller of Nevada and Rob Portman of Ohio are two other Republicans said to be on the fence. Sen. John McCain remains in his home state of Arizona after surgery for a blood clot. He is undergoing treatment for a brain tumor.

McConnell is short of votes as long as none of the fence-sitters votes to advance whatever bill McConnell offers.

Read this thread from Ben Wikler on how this week might go down. Note:

Watch the video below, then make some noise about how the GOP thinks "pathetic" needs to be made worse.

The Senate switchboard is (202) 224-3121. I offer some immodest instructions for organizing an effort to bypass busy phone lines here. The Senate convenes at 4 p.m. EDT.

Unleash hell.