Democratic lawmakers spent much of Thursday wandering around the Capitol in an attempt to find House Republicans’ health care plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. They couldn’t find it.
On Wednesday, House Republicans said they would release their much anticipated plan the next day, but that only House Republicans would be able to see it. Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) said it would be available in a “basement of an office building that adjoins the Capitol.”
“No one is getting a copy … We can go and read it,” Rep. Collins told the Washington Examiner.
Democratic lawmakers, such as Rep. Steny Hoyer, (D-MD) Rep. Jan Schakowski (D-IL), and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) went on an “egg hunt” for the document.
Update: pallone and schakowsky are now in McCarthy's office looking for the Obamacare bill. schakowsky told us they need a sniffer dog. pic.twitter.com/HocaOlHv9B
— Caitlin Owens (@caitlinnowens) March 2, 2017
Follow me live as I search for the House GOP's secret ACA repeal bill they are hiding from Members & the public https://t.co/PKf16Gqz6x
— Steny Hoyer (@WhipHoyer) March 2, 2017
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tweeted that the bill was “under lock and key,” but that he would demand a copy so the American people could see it. Sen. Paul added that it was “unacceptable” that one of the biggest issues before Congress and the American people would be kept secret.
I am heading to the secure location where they are keeping the House obamacare bill. I will demand a copy for the American people.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) March 2, 2017
I have been told that the House Obamacare bill is under lock & key, in a secure location, & not available for me or the public to view.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) March 2, 2017
Paul then reportedly wheeled over a copy machine to make copies of the bill, but was barred from entering the room where it was reportedly being kept. The bill had also been moved from the room before Paul got there, Politico reported.
KY Sen Rand Paul wheeled over a portable copy machine to McMorris Rodgers office in an effort to photocopy the health care bill
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) March 2, 2017
There is strong disagreement among Republicans over whether to repeal the health care law first and then replace it later or repeal and replace at the same time. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has strongly opposed having a replacement plan ready before repealing the ACA, because he says there will be disagreement about the replacement plan.
“If we load down the repeal bill with what comes next, it’s harder to get both of them passed,” Lee said at an event sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.
Whatever the latest GOP proposal to replace the law contains, it’s no wonder why they want to keep it under wraps. Republicans worry that the replacement will be unpopular, and that they will have to own the political consequences of whatever plan replaces the ACA. A recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the vague plan Republicans have offered — which pairs high-deductible plans with health savings accounts, gets rid of an income-based tax credit, and changes how the government subsidizes Medicaid — is unpopular with Trump voters.
Most of the people surveyed by KFF said they wanted to expand Medicaid even further, in contrast with Republican plans to block grant Medicaid. Some of the participants did not realize that the ACA was responsible for their eligibility for Medicaid.
Very few Americans — 16 percent — want to repeal the ACA in its entirety, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released in January. Fifty-one percent of Americans would some parts of the law to remain in place and 30 percent said they didn’t want any changes. The overwhelming majority of people surveyed said were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the quality of health care they have now.
A whopping 96 percent of Americans also said “health insurance should be affordable for all Americans.” It’s clear that if the ACA were repealed, millions of people would lose coverage. According to the CBO, 18 million people would lose insurance within the first year of an Obamacare repeal and that premiums for people buying coverage on their own would increase by 20 to 25 percent.
Americans have been going to their representatives’ town hall to oppose efforts to repeal the ACA. In January, House Speaker Paul Ryan was confronted by a lifelong Republican who said Obamacare saved his life. Nearly 200 people showed up to a health care town hall for Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) in February. The majority of the constituents were supporters of the health care law.
“Please don’t take my life away. Please don’t let me die,” a 21-year-old constituent with a heart condition told Bilirakis, according to the Tampa-Bay Times.
In an effort to avoid angry constituents, some Republicans simply skipped or decide not to hold town halls, leaving them to hold events without their representatives.