The Hunt for Obamacare’s “Secret” Replacement and Congressman Kevin Cramer’s Role

A funny thing happened on Capitol Hill today regarding legislation to replace Obamacare. U.S. Senator Rand Paul marched from the Senate over to the House of Representatives when he, “got word that the members of a House Energy and Commerce Committee were gathering to talk about the legislation.” When U.S. Senator Paul reached his destination, he was told the “secret” Obamacare replacement was not there and that nobody could see it anyway.

North Dakota’s Congressman Kevin Cramer serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the committee that apparently holds a “secret” replacement plan for Obamacare. Last week, Cramer brought Congressman Mike Burgess of Texas and member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to North Dakota for a healthcare round table. Rep, Burgess, is “one of the prime architects of the repeal and replace legislation” according to Cramer. Only fifteen minutes of the two-hour long discussion were open to the press. “Secret” indeed.

People familiar with the round table discussion have said there was no mention of the “Frontier Amendment” that brought North Dakota’s Medicare reimbursement on a level playing field with larger states. Here is what the Bismarck Tribune had to say about the amendment in 2011 a year after they endorsed Rick Berg over incumbent Earl Pomeroy because he supported Obamacare. The Frontier Amendment is a cornerstone in providing healthcare in our state. Why wasn’t it discussed? Because Cramer’s friend and colleague Congressman Burgess, “one of the prime architects” of replacing Obamacare hates the “Frontier Amendment” that helps rural North Dakota hospitals and senior citizens. Maybe Cramer wanted to keep that a “secret?”

Later in that same week, Cramer participated in a not-so-secret town hall in Fargo. Some of his constituents showed up to ask questions about the repeal and replace of Obamacare. After throwing out terms like “health savings accounts” and “tax credits,” people became angry that their Congressman didn’t appear to have a clear replacement plan. Later those angry participants concerned about their health insurance would be dismissed as “paid protesters.” Cramer’s employers in the crowd, North Dakota voters, began to wonder why in the hell he would proudly vote over 60 times to repeal something as important as their healthcare without a solid understanding of what would take its place. “Symbolism” he says.

Why is Congressman Cramer keeping his healthcare replacement plan a secret? Is it because he doesn’t have a robust plan? Does he not understand the plight of the working class and their inability to get covered because he has been on government healthcare for over a decade? Is it because he is afraid his plan will be unpopular and he cares more about politics and personal prestige over governing?

We should demand details, not scavenger hunts.

Tyler Axness
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