Maybe congressional aides are busy having great behind-the-scenes discussions about improving or replacing the Affordable Care Act commercial health insurance rules.
But I think the logical conclusion from watching three House committees mark up the American Health Care Act proposal is this: Most elected officials are in way over their heads when they try to talk about this stuff.
Many of the Democrats spend their time complaining about Republican meanies taking care away from the poor, and many Republicans obsess about side issues, such as work requirements for able-bodied adults who want Medicaid, because they have no idea how health insurance worked in 2009, no idea how the ACA changed the health insurance business, and no idea what the AHCA proposal would do, other than that it would change something to do with taxes.
The House Energy & Commerce Committee and House Ways & Means Committee started by marking up the bill during grueling sessions March 8.
The House Budget Committee marked up the bill Thursday.
I have many things to do and couldn’t watch as much of the video as I would have liked. But I watched a fair amount live, and more of the recorded versions. I also sifted through the videos using the video transcript search tool on C-SPAN.
There were some highlights.
Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., chairman of the House Budget Committee seemed genuinely nice and bipartisan, for example, thanked the Democrats, and the staff members on both sides, at the end of her committee’s markup.
But the Democrats on the committee seemed to focus mainly on general complaints about how terrible AHCA would be for poor people and how good it would be for rich people. The Republicans tended to focus on ways to direct Medicaid toward more deserving poor people.
At the Ways & Means Committee, Rep. Ron Kind, D-Ind., and Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., engaged in a few minutes of conversations that suggested that they both had given some thought to the existence of commercial health insurance.
Kind, for example, knew that the ACA tax credit for small businesses is too complicated. He knew that Medicare is trying to shift away from paying for care on a fee-for-service basis.