For the last two months, congressional Republicans have demonstrated hypocrisy of the highest order concerning health care legislation.
Eight years ago, when then-President Barack Obama introduced his signature health care reform, the Affordable Care Act, Republicans shouted and cried that the bill was being kept under wraps and rammed down the throats of the American people.
But now, with the American Health Care Act, Republicans are doing exactly that.
Throughout 2009, House Speaker Paul Ryan wrote or tweeted criticisms of the ACA, such as, “I don’t think we should pass bills that we haven’t read that we don’t know what they cost.”
“I don’t think any individual has read the whole bill,” Rep. Thomas Garrett (R-VA) said in a CNBC article, referring to the AHCA before House Republicans passed it last month.
The bill was, of course, passed weeks before the Congressional Budget Office determined it would leave 23 million more Americans uninsured by 2026.
“Congress is moving fast to rush through a health care overhaul that lacks a key ingredient: the full participation of you, the American people,” Ryan wrote in an op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2009.
Today, only 21% of the American people approve of the AHCA, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll.
And according to USA Today, top Senate Republicans are currently drafting an Obamacare repeal behind closed doors. Many rank-and-file Republicans told reporters “they had no idea what was being drafted.”
“I think we’re not worried so much about that as we are getting it together so we can get a majority to vote for it,” said Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT) when asked about public review of the legislation, according to Slate, seeming to indicate that their bill would be kept secret until it’s passable on the floor of the Senate.
“We shouldn’t rush this thing through just to rush it through for some artificial deadline. Let’s get this thing done right,” Ryan said of the ACA in a televised interview with MSNBC in 2009.
But in May, Ryan pushed for the House to vote on the AHCA before the Congressional recess, according to Time Magazine.
The Editorial Board would also like to remind its readers that the ACA was not the least bit “rushed through” Congress.
According to CNN, the first roundtable on health care policy was held in the Senate in April 2009. Versions of the bill were passed back and forth from the House to the Senate until it was finally passed and signed in March 2010.
There were 160 hours of debate, 100 committee hearings, roundtables and walkthroughs, and roughly 170 amendments included by the Republican Party, according to Politifact.
With Republicans intending to bring their health care legislation directly to the floor of the Senate, they will bypass the committee process altogether.
By using reconciliation to pass the bill with 51 votes, there will be up to only 20 hours of debate on the matter.
While we acknowledge that comparing the ACA’s completed legislative process to one that’s still ongoing isn’t entirely congruent, it remains plainly obvious that Republicans misconstrued the narrative surrounding the ACA and are also engaging in the practice of rushing their own bill through Congress.
We urge the American people to be diligent and skeptical of the AHCA and for Republicans to do a self-reflective analysis of their own hypocrisy regarding health care reform.