GOP taking heat for “secrecy” in healthcare overhaul

A select group of Republican lawmakers working on the nation’s new health plan with the House Energy and Commerce Committee is working in a “limited view, limited access” environment to prevent leaks of the draft, like the one that occurred last week.

Many politicians, Democrat and Republican alike, are not happy with this.

The workup of the bill is happening in a room in the Capitol where entry is allowed for only a select few.

Senator Paul Rand (R-Ky.) obviously wasn’t one of the “select few.” After he couldn’t get into the room where he thought the bill was located, he tweeted his displeasure.

Rand told reporters:

“We want to see the bill. We have many objections. We’re here asking for a written copy of this because this should be an open and transparent process.”

Most Republicans are defending the healthcare bill process and say members need the space to work on the measure before it is finalized and released.

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Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) wants the healthcare bill passed and in the Senate by the end of March.

Democrats are complaining that not allowing them to see the draft of the legislation will not allow time to properly review it before a committee vote, and they have complained about the lack of a hearing on the bill.

According to Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), the repeal is moving so quickly that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) might not have a chance to score it before the Energy and Commerce Committee’s vote.

Without a CBO analysis, lawmakers would be voting on the measure without estimates of how much the legislation would cost or how many people could lose or gain insurance coverage.

Representative Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), a Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, said the following concerning the Republicans’ move to not release the bill yet.

“I think they’re afraid it will show that it really doesn’t cover most of the people that received coverage under the Affordable Care Act.”

Asked why his committee would not have a hearing on the bill before the committee vote, House Ways and Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) spoke about the “Better Way” healthcare plan that House Republicans introduced last year.

Brady said, “This is an issue members know deep in their heart, because we’ve been in this fight for four to six years, and last year we spent a great deal of time as House Republicans, creating the Better Way blueprint on health care reform. Those elements in the blueprint have been public now since last summer.”

Asked about the possibility of a CBO score, Brady said, “We’re working toward having a CBO score as soon as possible.”

Brady said, “We don’t have a bill. We’re continuing to work with CBO and our members on the final product. When we do that, when we finalize that, we will announce the markup, post that bill publicly and follow the rules of the House, which are very transparent.”

On Thursday, there were Republican lawmakers who criticized the CBO and downplayed the importance of receiving its analysis. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, pointed to the way the CBO does “dynamic scoring,” which is supposed to take into account the broader economic effects of legislation.

“The way they do dynamic scoring, if a business did dynamic scoring the way they did it, we’d be thrown in jail, so I don’t put a whole lot of stock in their scoring. I do like to understand where they’re coming from, though, but sometimes it doesn’t make any sense on how they do it.”

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said, “No offense to the CBO, they work very hard there, but I don’t think they’re very accurate a lot of times, and they operate with a lot of arcane assumptions.”

H/T: The Hill

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