The plan, or at least the “Plan A,” was very clear. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had been expecting that the upper chamber would take a vote on some version of the repeal-and-replace health care bill before the end of business Friday, June 30.
The House of Representatives has already voted in favor of a form of Trumpcare. Everyone understood the Senate’s bill wouldn’t be the same bill, so an affirmative vote would send nothing right to the President’s desk. And the President himself had taken to calling the House bill “mean.”
But the Senate leadership’s presumably not-quite-so-mean bill would, if passed quickly by the end of June, have sent both versions to a conference, giving the conferees of House and Senate a fairly straightforward task of splitting the various differences.
That was the plan. Further, the proposed quick timing of the vote wasn’t an arbitrary choice. It was based on sound tactical reasoning. Senators go back to their states over the Independence Day break. McConnell was (sensibly, from his own point of view) concerned that when the Senators in his Republican caucus went home for the break, they’d get an earful from unhappy constituents, and they would return to Washington in a more cautious mood with regard to any sudden change in health care policy.
They have now gone home, if only briefly, and that may well prove exactly the case.
Left Wing View
Left-of-center views of health care policy in the United States can now be divided into two groups: those that see Obamacare as a flag around which to rally, and those who see it as at best a way station on the path to Single Payer (also known as Medicare for All).
— Winnie Wong (@WaywardWinifred) July 3, 2017
This is roughly the divide between the supporters of Hillary Clinton and of Bernie Sanders as it played itself out in the Democratic Party’s primary season in 2016. As Senator Sanders himself has tweeted, “we [the United States] should join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee healthcare as a right.”
Bill Curry wrote about this conflict in Salon, taking Sanders’ side. The idea of too many in the Clinton camp, he writes, has for a long time been “to seize the center-right and drive the Republicans to the far right.” But this triangulation doesn’t give the Democrats a coherent place to stand, and it allows the Republicans to “co-opt every Democratic talking point.”
A real fix to health care, Curry says, requires “moving in a whole other direction” away from Trumpcare and Obamacare both. “Why waste time pretending otherwise?”
Right Wing View
Beginning on June 30, much of the right-of-center discussion in social media (and in traditional media as well) about health care policy was about the question of what is “Plan B.” Many argued that the Republican Party’s goal should shift from repeal-and-replace in a single bill, to the ‘simple’ act of repeal, with a deferral on the matter of replacement.
President Trump himself led the way on this shift.
If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 30, 2017
There was immediate pushback, for example from columnist Charles Krauthammer, who said, “You can’t have a clean, bold, and naked repeal … that will be utterly intolerable. “
Also on January 30, National Review ran an essay by Tiana Lowe, condemning the House-passed bill as well as the bill on which the Senate had been working. She wrote that both bills incorporated “backdoor mandates as a faux free-market alternative” to Obamacare, while still buying into all its assumptions.
Ms. Lowe is a young woman, an intern, still pursuing her undergraduate degree at the University of Southern California. In this article as on her Twitter account, she’s been advocating for a plan put forward by former Presidential candidate Ted Cruz, which involves “a consumer freedom option allowing insurance companies to sell non-Obamacare-compliant plans so long as they sell at least one Obamacare-compliant plan as well.”
A certain amount of fatalism also exists on the right, as many free market warriors have come to suspect that their cause is lost and single payer is the future.
Defending the Flag
On the other hand, there are many in social media who continue to defend Obamacare as a good thing in itself (needing perhaps minor fixes), not as a mere way station to something else. They employ the hashtags #ProtectOurCare and #SaveACA.
With the help of such hashtags one finds, for example, the words of BuffyHippie, on tweeted on July 3, “ACA saved my life. I got insurance, found out I had a heart problem.”
— BuffyHippie (@BuffyHippie) July 3, 2017
Secretary Clinton herself tweeted on June 23 that if Republicans passed the bill then under discussion in the Senate, “they’re the death party.”
Forget death panels. If Republicans pass this bill, they’re the death party. https://t.co/jCStfOaBjy
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 23, 2017