Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has begun offering payments and inducements to get reluctant senators in his party to vote for the destructive health care bill.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has begun offering cash to Republican senators who are holding up passage of the destructive health care bill.
McConnell has so far been forced to hold off on submitting the legislation for a final vote since he lacks the support to get it passed.
The Washington Post reports that McConnell and his Senate leadership team are “working frantically behind the scenes” on revisions designed to bring wavering senators on board.
The first sign of what McConnell will do with the $188 billion he pulled together in the bill slated to be thrown at Republicans showed up in reports about opioid treatment.
The bill contains provisions that would adversely impact efforts to treat people addicted to opioids. Experts have labeled the reductions in care “a death sentence.”
Despite this, McConnell is actively dangling money for opioid addiction treatment in front of reluctant senators, in a cynical ploy to attract their votes. He is proposing $43 billion over 10 years for a treatment fund, a move that HuffPost reports is “an attempt to win support from Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), both of whom have said they cannot support the legislation in its current form.”
The initial version of the bill set the funding at an inadequate $2 billion, giving Capito and Portman the wiggle room to tell voters at home that they “fought” McConnell for the money, justifying their votes in favor of a bill that would strip health insurance from 22 million people.
A source in the Trump administration gave a blatant assessment in a comment to Axios: “I think we’re going to pass this. I really think they’ll bribe off the moderates with opioid money and then actually move policy to shore up Mike Lee and Ted Cruz.”
Other provisions in the legislation are designed to induce Republicans in states where the conservative bill is a tough sell to trade in their constituents’ well-being for a vote.
One provision has a few cash incentives for states that spend less on Medicaid enrollees, which is not enough to make up for the more than $700 billion slated to be cut from the program, but perhaps enough to convince the senators from Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada to get on board.
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski has been wavering on the bill, so a provision exempting a few states from penalties on Medicaid spending was added. By no coincidence at all, Alaska is one of those select few states.
McConnell is also seeking to add more dollars to the bill’s state stabilization fund, and working to make that money go to states quicker than before. This would give him an avenue to transfer cash for votes to multiple senators.
The Republican health care bill isn’t anywhere close to dead yet, and as Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) recently pointed out, Republicans are playing a long game to ensure its passage. McConnell’s actions show that no tactic is off the table, even a blatant bribe while millions of lives hang in the balance.