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The Guardian: Senator Lindsey Graham on healthcare: ‘I don’t know what the GOP plan is’

Senator Lindsey Graham told a rowdy town hall in South Carolina on Saturday healthcare was going to change. He just could not say how.

“Can I let you in on a little secret?” the Republican told roughly 1,000 people packed a theatre at Clemson University. “I don’t know what the GOP plan is.”

Many people inside and outside the Republican party do not know where the GOP plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), often called Obamacare, currently is. Amidst uncertainty over the form of such legislation and its likely political cost, Republican leaders in Congress are reportedly keeping a draft law under lock and key.

This week the Democratic representative Steny Hoyer, of Maryland, led a group of journalists on a hunt for the law, through rooms in and around the US Capitol.

The Kentucky Republican senator Rand Paul, a dissenter to party orthodoxy about how to replace the ACA, also failed to find and see the law.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, drew criticism when he told an audience of healthcare executives at the White House: “Nobody knew that healthcare could be so complicated.”

A draft plan was reported by NBC last month. It contained steep cuts to coverage provided by the ACA and the introduction of tax credits instead. Medicaid coverage would also be cut back sharply.

“I didn’t know there were this many liberals in South Carolina,” Graham joked.Only 41% of voters supported Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in last year’s presidential election.

Republican town halls have been the focus of sometimes raucous protests in recent weeks. About 30 million people are covered by the ACA, meaning Republicans face a potentially high political cost to pay should their replacement take coverage away.

Graham briefly won his audience back by promising to push for the healthcare debate to be held publicly. He said he was bothered that Republicans seemed to be making a mistake he attributed to Obama: hastily writing a plan and trying to pass it with as little discussion as possible.

Graham said he used the ACA to get his health insurance in South Carolina shortly after it passed. His deductible rose from $ 750 to $ 6,250 and his premiums quadrupled, he said.

“That’s not healthcare,” he said. “That is a redistribution of income.”

Graham said he had since moved to the military’s health plan, having retired from the air force, where he spent much of a three-decade career in the reserves. He asked the crowd if they wanted healthcare like him. When they yelled yes, he said: “Then serve 33 years in the air force.”

Graham and the audience agreed that insurers should not be able to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Graham covered a wide range of subjects. All the audience’s questions were placed in a bucket and randomly drawn, leading to five queries on whether Trump should be forced to release his tax returns. Graham supports a bill requiring presidential candidates to release their taxes, starting in 2020.

“We can subpoena his tax returns,” Graham said of Trump as the crowd roared. “I’ll do that when there is a reason to,” he said, grinning.

Graham said he believed Russia worked to interfere in the US election in 2016 and is working to tip elections in Europe in 2017. Vladimir Putin’s government should be punished through sanctions, he said.

The crowd cheered Graham when the town hall ended. One attendee, Charlotte Holt, said she appreciated his time. Unlike Graham but in common with dozens of elected Republican officials around the US, some congressmen in South Carolina have not held in-person town meetings to discuss healthcare reform.

“He’s as close to a responsible senator as you are going to get in South Carolina,” she said.

The Guardian

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Source: ONTD_Political

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