This morning I wrote about Senator John Hoeven flipping on his previous position and voting in favor of the very unpopular Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). That version of “health care reform” was the first of many to be voted on in the Senate during this week after the narrow passage on the motion to proceed. Moments ago, the Senate voted on a straight repeal of Obamacare without a replacement plan ready. Hoeven again voted for the measure. It failed 45-55. He is o-for-2.
The “repeal only” option would have kicked 32 million people off of health insurance, raised premiums by 25%, and cut Medicaid by $842 billion. Tax cuts for CEOs and Wall Street financiers would have equaled $613 billion according to analysis. The impacts of this version if it had passed are worse than the BCRA.
This vote again flies in the face of public concerns issued by Hoeven earlier this month. Medicaid cuts in the BCRA were too drastic he stated. The cuts he voted for moments ago are $70 billion deeper. The hope for some in the Republican caucus was they could repeal current law and get some replacement plan passed at a later date. There is no guarantee Congress will be able to come together on a replacement plan. This is likely why Hoeven keeps talking about “process.” The current process used by Mitch McConnell leaves too many uncertain when it comes to their health care. Irresponsible.
Hoeven took a late stance against the BCRA. He flipped when it came time to vote. However, this isn’t the first time he has voted for a straight repeal of Obamacare. He joined other Republican Senators in 2015 for a straight repeal knowing then President Obama would veto the bill. “Symbolic” votes as Congressman Kevin Cramer called them. Earlier this week, Cramer urged straight repeal from the Senate, Hoeven must have been listening.
Times have changed. We have a new President eager for a legislative victory. Whatever bill Congress passes onto the President will be signed. Trump has said he is sitting at his desk pen-in-hand. The Senate should stop with the irresponsibility, start over, hold public hearings, and pass something that works in a bipartisan way then urge the House to follow.
North Dakota’s other Senator, Heidi Heitkamp, has voted against both versions offered so far.