Media Camps Out, Stalks Republicans Over Super Secret Healthcare Bill

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By Emily Zanotti | 2:02 pm, June 22, 2017
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The Senate GOP’s Obamacare replacement bill was a deep, dark secret until Thursday morning, when reporters finally got ahold of the 140-page bill that had been eluding them for weeks.

Details are now out—the bill is an improvement over the House measure, but not by much according to most conservative commentary—thanks to the diligence of members of the media who refused to take no for an answer. Or, really, refused to leave the Capitol and possibly to shower.

All week, the House and Senate office buildings have been home to scenes like this, from Twitter, featuring Sen. John McCain attempting to make it three feet to an up escalator.

And like this, a live video, of the gaggle of press outside of a single meeting taking place just off the Senate floor.

If that goes too quickly, here’s a still of only one side of the affair, as reporters prepared to pounce on any Member of Congress brave enough to exit his or her own pow-wow.

It got so tense that some Members of Congress took to Twitter to try to correct reporters who couldn’t make it into the scrum and managed to hear only bits and pieces of impromptu press conferences.

The constant hum of cellphones running recording programs, and the glare of photographers’ lights apparently did not deter Republicans from keeping details of the Senate health bill under wraps until Thursday morning, when they revealed a plan that features revisions to Obamacare’s massive Medicaid expansion, and repeals a number of taxes imposed under the law.

It also increases health insurance subsidies available for low-income Americans, and expands the timeline states would have to move those who shifted onto Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act back to other health insurance options.

The bill from the Senate—unlike the one released last week from House Republicans—is narrowly tailored so as to avoid an extensive floor debate (as well as controversies over things like abortion funding), and designed to pass as a reconciliation measure: a budget vote that requires only a simple majority in both houses of Congress.

Democrats, of course, immediately decried the bill as “heartless” and “mean” for rolling back such necessary ACA provisions as maternity care for men and taxes on “medical devices” including tampons and tanning beds. Some Senate Republicans also remain unconvinced that the new legislation does anything to alleviate the burden ACA has placed on the health insurance system.

Whatever happens, though, we know the media will be ready. Because they already have their sleeping bags set up on the floor.