Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has chosen his team to write the Senate Republican version of the American Health Care Act, and senators will apparently scrap the House version and start over. "This process will not be quick or simple or easy," McConnell said Monday. But the group of 13 senators McConnell has tapped for the task — including himself and his top two deputies — has raised eyebrows because, among other things, it includes 13 men and no women.
Robert Pear at The New York Times suggests that McConnell, a shrewd tactician, chose to include only men, including far-right Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), "to placate the right." But his picks "may have inadvertently created a dangerous alliance," Pear adds, between Republicans who are more moderate on health care, especially Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who came up with the "Jimmy Kimmel Test" for health-care legislation. If they band together, they just need one more Republican to effectively veto any bill — and between Medicaid and pre-existing conditions, there are AHCA skeptics in the Senate GOP caucus.
But it isn't just the homogeneity that has people talking; McConnell also left out several senators with potentially useful experience. Collins, for example, notes that she "spent five years in state government overseeing the Bureau of Insurance many years ago, and I think I can bring some experience to the debate that will be helpful." Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the only black Republican in the Senate, owned one of the most successful Allstate insurance branches in South Carolina before running for Congress, Pear says.
And, of course, health care is an important topic for women as well as men, and the House AHCA would have some sticker shock for women in particular — if pregnancy were deemed a pre-existing condition, as allowed in the bill, a healthy 40-year-old woman could pay $17,060 more in premiums for her pregnancy, or up to 425 percent more than under ObamaCare, according to an analysis by the liberal Center for American Progress. The AHCA also bans federal funding for Planned Parenthood for at least one year, and prohibits federal tax credits to be used on any insurance plan to covers abortion. Michelle Wolf took an acerbic look at the GOP's all-male health-care panel on Monday's Daily Show, and you can hear her thoughts below. Peter Weber