“Skinny Repeal” Is On Deck For a Midnight Vote

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Diet health care is here! The New York Times reports that Mitch McConnell has finally released his “skinny repeal” bill, and it has six provisions:

  1. Repeals the individual mandate.
  2. Repeals the employer mandate.
  3. Allows states to waive Obamacare’s essential benefits.
  4. Expands Health Savings Accounts.
  5. Delays the medical device tax.
  6. Forbids payments to Planned Parenthood and increases funds for community health centers.

What’s the deal here? Didn’t the Senate parliamentarian already rule that #3 and #6 don’t pass muster in a reconciliation bill and can’t be included? What am I missing? Is there some small change in wording that makes the “skinny repeal” versions of these things more directly related to taxes and spending?

Also, is this revenue neutral? #4 and #5 cost money. #3 and #6 do nothing. So are they assuming that repealing the mandates will save money? It certainly reduces the number of people who will buy insurance, which means that federal subsidies go down. On the other hand, repealing the mandates also causes premiums to go up for everyone else, which means that federal subsidies are increased. Do we know how that pencils out? Can this bill be passed without a CBO score to clear this up?

Nothing matters, I guess. Maybe tonight’s vote is, yet again, “procedural.” If so—and I can’t quite get a straight answer about that—I guess they can put anything they want in the bill. Except for one thing: several senators are worried that if this passes, the House might double-cross them. Instead of using it as a placeholder for negotiation, they might just vote on the thing and pass it into law. Paul Ryan could have cleared this up with a definitive statement this afternoon, but instead he delivered a waffly statement. There’s no honor among Republicans, I guess.

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And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

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