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#WheresTheBill: Congress on goose chase to find secret GOP health bill

04 March 2017

Their confidence, coming after months of dead ends and false starts, is fueled by the belief that President Donald Trump has their back - even if some conservatives now don't.

He stopped to speak to a bust of Abraham Lincoln to ask if he's seen the health care bill. The lawmaker said the move suggests that leadership is attempting to hide the fact that the forthcoming legislation will be "Obamacare Lite".

Usually, however, a bill is publicly introduced, and the text known and available, well before a markup session happens.

Sen. Rand Paul was joined by House Democrats in a literal treasure hunt through the Capitol Thursday in search of House Republicans' Obamacare replacement bill. This lets everyone get the full benefit of the credit even if they pay little or no taxes, which is the case for many lower-income Americans.

Cruz and Lee used similar language in tweets this week. Republicans promised an open, inclusive process with lots of time for input.

"When we heard it was secret, we wanted to see it even more", the Kentucky Republican told CNN's Kate Boldaun in an interview, noting, "As we speak, my staff is still going around Washington looking for the bill". Reports surfaced Wednesday evening that the House Energy and Finance Committee has a draft and is allowing its members to review it in a dedicated reading room Thursday.

"Who would have thought, one month into the fight over the ACA, it's the Republicans, not the Democrats, who are in disarray and pointing at one another like an Abbott and Costello show", said Schumer. "We are in sync - the House, the Senate and the Trump administration, because this law is collapsing". But that does little to deal with conservative gripes about the plan's basic structure.

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"We have no idea right now what they're considering", he said of his Republican colleagues.

The lawmakers are criticizing the developing legislation as "Obamacare lite".

"Also, [we are discussing] individual tax credits so Americans who don't get healthcare at work, don't get it from a government program like Medicare or the VA, can still have the option of choosing a plan that's personalized to their needs".

In the House draft bill, Kaiser notes, the average tax credit for current marketplace plan members would increase from an estimated $2,957 in 2020 to $3,729 in 2027.

The Ways and Means Committee is expected to work through the weekend to try and structure the refundable tax credits in a way that addresses conservative members' concerns.

In a Thursday press briefing, House Majority Leader Representative Paul Ryan denied. Democrats voiced similar complaints.

Paul announced on Twitter that he was heading to the "secure location" where the bill was being held, and soon drew a sizable gaggle of reporters and cameras. "If you'd recall, when Obamacare was passed in 2009 and 2010, Nancy Pelosi said, 'You'll know what's in it after you pass it.' The Republican Party shouldn't act in the same way".