Senate Republicans' negotiations to form a new health care system to replace Obamacare have been cloaked in secrecy — so much so that South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham admitted on Monday that he has no idea what's in the bill. Furthermore, Graham does not appear to care to find out. But the rest of America can't afford to be as blissfully ignorant about health care reform.
Independent Journal Review's Haley Byrd tweeted on Monday that when asked by reporters if he would like to know more about the health care bill, Graham said "no." Graham was also quoted by Bloomberg News reporter Sahil Kapur as saying, "We know this is not the best way to do health care, but it's the way we're having to do it."
Graham is far from the only Republican lawmaker left in the dark about this bill — Axios reported on Monday that the Republican Senate bill will not be released to the public for review before being sent to the Congressional Budget Office for a rating.
A reporter asks Sen. Lindsey Graham if he knows any details on the Senate GOP health care bill. "None." Would you like to know more? "No."— Haley Byrd (@byrdinator) June 12, 2017
And while that practice may not be unheard of, it is troubling for a bill of this magnitude and with this much controversy attached to it, says Dr. Paul B. Ginsburg, the director for the Center of Health and Policy at the Brookings Institution.
"It's really shocking for legislation this important to be proceeding without committee hearings and with very little time to engage the public. It's not normal at all," Ginsburg tells Bustle. "[L]egislation this important [is] going to have profound effects on millions of people, profound effects on some of our hospital providers as well as effects on the federal budget."
Ginsburg adds, "I think it raises great concerns, and the public, I think, has been deliberately excluded from this to a great extent."
"We know this is not the best way to do health care," says @LindseyGrahamSC. "But it's the way we're having to do it."— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) June 12, 2017
Democrats certainly seem fed up with the cloak and dagger tactics being deployed. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer said on Monday:
Like Schumer, Ginsburg also thinks that it is a deliberate strategy by Republican Senate leadership to get a bill passed with as little public attention as possible.
"As people learned the details of the House bill, it became less and less popular," Ginsburg says. "And I think there's concern that will happen with the Senate bill. The more the public is aware of, the more analysis that can be done, the more unpopular it will become."
If they were proud of this plan, they wouldn’t hide anything – they’d crow all about it! What exactly are they trying to cover up? 5/7— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) June 12, 2017
That's exactly why Americans can't accept that the Republicans are concealing this bill. The version of the bill that passed the House of Representatives in May would force 23 million people off of their health care plans, according to the CBO.
The fact that this legislation is being decided out of sight of those who would decry it is troubling for those whose health care is presumably on the chopping block. Being unconcerned with the specifics of the bill is a luxury Americans outside the Beltway can't afford.