“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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This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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