Thune Claims Senate Health Care Bill Meetings Open to “Anybody”

Help me figure this one out: Senator John Thune says he and his fellow Republican Senators are not hiding their health care plan:

There’s been a lot written about this so-called working group and the small group of people meeting in secret, but those meetings are open to anybody…. Everybody’s clamoring that we’re hiding the ball somewhere. There’s no bill out there yet [Senator John Thune, in Dana Ferguson, “Thune: Health Bill Meetings ‘Open to Anybody’,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2017.06.15].

That’s funny—does he mean “anybody” like patients groups who might have some useful input about changes in health care law?

This week, a group of more than 15 patients groups — including the American Heart Assn., the March of Dimes, the American Lung Assn. and the American Diabetes Assn. — asked McConnell’s office to meet with them next week, proposing any time between Friday and June 22.

A representative from McConnell’s office told them staff schedules were too busy, according to representatives of several of the organizations [Noam N. Levey and Lisa Mascaro, “Republican Secrecy Faces Mounting Criticism as GOP Senators Work Behind Closed Doors to Replace Obamacare,” Los Angeles Times, 2017.06.16].

Does he mean “anybody” like the Department of Health and Human Services?

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said in a hearing on Thursday that his staff had provided “technical assistance” to senators working on the bill, but that he had not seen any “legislative language” himself [Benjy Sarlin and Leigh Ann Caldwell, “The Senate’s Health Care bill Remains Shrouded in Secrecy,” NBC News, 2017.06.15].

John Thune
First, you must be this tall to come to our health care meetings….

Does he mean “anybody” like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who feels he has to invite all Senators to an open-door meeting to get any information about what Thune and friends are formualting behind their closed doors?

Does he mean “anybody” like fellow Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who doesn’t know if Thune and friends are building a health care bill from scratch or just tinkering with the bad House bill?

But again, I don’t know that. Because none of us have actually seen language.

Is it the framework of the House-passed bill and then we’re filling in our own details? I don’t know. We just don’t know.

My constituents expect me to know, and if we had utilized the process that goes through a committee, I would be able to answer not only your questions but my constituents’ questions [Senator Lisa Murkowski, in Dylan Scott, “Lisa Murkowski, a Crucial Senate Swing Vote, Is Very Frustrated with AHCA,” Vox, 2017.06.15].

Forgive me, Senator Thune, but I’m having trouble finding anyone who corroborates your story of openness on how you plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Even the paper to which you make your claim of openness thinks the process is too secretive. You’re acting more like you’re planning a surprise party, not legislation that affects an industry that makes up over a sixth of our economy.

Related Clicking: The Kaiser Family Foundation maps the impact of repealing the Affordable Care Act in each state. In South Dakota, Kaiser figures the ACA has insured 7,000 more people, provided $11 million a year in premium tax credits, and protected the insurability of 126,000 non-elderly people with declinable pre-existing conditions. I’d try to explain how your plan will affect those numbers, but as you said, there is no bill yet, and as you refuse to admit, you won’t let anyone else in to see what you’re thinking of putting in the bill.

25 Responses to Thune Claims Senate Health Care Bill Meetings Open to “Anybody”

  1. Just saying that “there is no bill out there yet” is a pretty lame excuse. Can you imagine the boys sitting around at Independence Hall, sipping tea, waiting for the Declaration. After all, no one wanted to have input. They just trusted Tom and a couple others to present the final copy and they would all sign it and pat each other on the back. Remember, there were no speeches, no disagreement, and no one was allowed to offer changes. No discussion. That’s GOP history, folks!

  2. Porter Lansing

    Sorry, Sen. Thune … The NBC News yesterday did a story on your daily two hour sessions, (my Repub Sen. Gardner is there, too) and while the story was being narrated the camera focused for at least 30 seconds on the sign in the entrance to the meeting room that said NO ADMITTANCE.
    Hey, John … Whatever it is, it’ll never pass the Freedom Caucus.

  3. Roger Cornelius

    Thune is attempting to gaslight his constituents by saying there is no bill, I agree that there is no bill, but that is not the point. The point is that the public should have a right to hear what is happening in committee as the new senate bill is written and more importantly to have input into what the bill eventually includes.
    Thune was at the White House meeting with Trump when the president called the House bill “mean”, Thune made no public statement about this meeting that I am aware of.
    Also of note is Bob Mercers Pure Pierre Politics “Zero states want GOP Health bill” which suggest that the GOP has to convince their own constituents before rolling out any new health care bill.

  4. Roger Elgersma

    It is just like when Deb Peters was chairwoman of the appropriations committee. She said, ‘We do not present the budget till the last minute so no one can complain. She told me this herself in the capitol building. She thought it was wise. Well it does get your agenda through without having to be responsible to answer to what you have done. And if you simply do not care about the opinions of those who do care, you can still sleep at night.

  5. Roger Elgersma

    If they write the bill before outside discussion, then they run it through so fast no one can discuss it when it is out there, then there is no democracy. But we not have bully rule and they do not intend to go through the process of democracy. That is the type that makes secret deals with Putin, recuse themselves for being to involved and then ask you why they did it. That is not democracy, that is Republican.

  6. I think Republicans realize Trump has made this a two year only opportunity for them to transfer as much of the wealth commoners have left to the 1% as they can. Their chance will be gone after 2018, expect the same tactics on the upcoming budget and their so called “tax reforms”. I wish people would quit calling this fiasco a health care bill, it’s a f***ing tax cut, they are just using health care money to pay for it.

  7. mike from iowa

    The pic at the top of this article sez it all. The three stooges-McCturtle, Marlboro Barbie and an unnamed miscreant all looking to the right, with virtually identical faces. :( Bwahahahahahahahaha! What a freakin’ joke of so called citizen legislators. The greatest deliberatively obtuse bunck of liars ever assembled under one roof and they are all wingnuts. How do they get elected?

  8. Cult republicans declare, Russia Rules baby! Will this be as clean of a takeover as was Amazon and Whole Foods? Which one are we?

    While Thune plays hide and go seek with our healthcare, the rest of the cult is double crossing us with the sell out to Russia.

  9. The young Ms. Peters was one of the prettiest in the legislatures at one time. Isn’t she working in D.C. now for ALEC or whatever that thing is that so many hate? Because the Koches own it.

  10. Porter Lansing

    Good one, Grudzie.
    Koches … rhymes with Roaches. 🕷🕷🕷 ……… 🐀

  11. mike from iowa

    Porter-you done went and insulted roaches. Have you no shame, Sir?

  12. mike from iowa

    There are 13 wingnuts hiding while planning everyone’s doom through lack of healthcare. Is the number 13 significant? Like the 13 loops in a hangman’s noose?

  13. barry freed

    Until our Votes are counted accurately, we have nothing but this crap.

    Have you talked to your County Auditor about Opti-Scan hacking in Aberdeen?

  14. I called roundy office on Friday and a Matt told me Obamacare rose 124% in SD alone I said well at least I have coverage, what prevents this new bill from going up
    500% because of my preexiating condition or better yet covering me at all,,,,he said someone would have to get back to me.,,,, I’m not waiting by my phone next week

  15. mike from iowa

    Wingnuts withheld money for the risk pools just before the election in 2016 which caused insurance prices to spike dramatically-just as wingnuts planned.

    The uncertainty insurance companies have is not about the ACA as it is about wingnuts playing games trying to force the ACA to fail while not replacing it. Things to hideous to look at. Funny

  16. “The coast-to-coast opioid epidemic is swamping hospitals, with government data published Tuesday showing 1.27 million emergency room visits or inpatient stays for opioid-related issues in a single year.” Washington Post. Holy buckets man! That is a whole lot of folks that are costing us a fortune. Cult republicans will view this as the same opportunities they see with the guns, put more guns and put more opioids on the street! Why do something about either, freedom don’tcha know.

  17. My letter to silent john and round mike:

    As the attempt to repeal the ACA staggers secretly to a vote in the US Senate, I implore you to not let this abomination of a bill passed by the House, passed without any consideration to its consequences, and unread by many members, come to a vote without adherence to normal Senate procedure — committee hearings, debate and amendment.
    Should this happen, and should you allow this to happen, please sell your home, move to trumpistan (or Kentucky) where your obvious allegiance lies and place your head between your legs or in the sand which ever you find more comfortable.
    Please do not return to South Dakota. You will have proven yourself to be not only a disgrace as a US Senator but also as a supposed “representative” of this state.
    You will have betrayed us and your solemn duty — you will no longer be welcome here.

  18. mike from iowa

    I’m giving you a thumbs up, Buckobear, although I may be the only one. Some of my chats with Chuck Grassley are a little more pointed and suggestive and of course they only answer the easier questions.

    I am still trying to figure out how AG Sessions still has a job after perjuring himself at least twice in testimony to the Senate.

  19. Thune, Rounds and whatshername all say that ACA/Obamacare is a failure. Yet two South Dakota insurance companies are still writing Marketplace policies. I think that the three dingalings are lying, simple as that. As much as they, all three, have tried to lie and kill insurance for thousands of South Dakotans, the local insurance companies keep writing coverage. Hats off to Avera and Sanford for proving that ACA/Obamacare works which is a helluva lot more than I can say for the double-crossers we have sent to Washington.

  20. Cory is mistaken with his description of Thune in the picture here. What Thune is actually showing is how big a pile of money he can expect with the secrecy of this trumpcare. Thune is one of 13 who are placing their bets with Wall Street before the rest of the chum can even glimpse it.

    We raise our senators well here in South Dakota on the grift. We have a couple there that are clearly showing the rest of their fellows how to cash in on their own states sick people.

  21. Dems, keep these two plates spinning! Progressives, if you don’t know what this means, attend your next dem party meeting. If we divide our forces, this is what we will get. Up you know where! 3 points:

    1. The ugly other secret is repeal/replace goes further than Obamacare-the republican name for the ACA. Medicaid is the country’s largest government health care program, covering more Americans than its better-known sibling, Medicare. Its reach is broad, and much of our health care was included in the program before Obamacare became law.

    The Republican American Health Care Act (confusingly AACA) or “Trumpcare” would try to slim down the federal share of that spending, by limiting how much the federal government would pay for each person enrolled in the program. The Senate version of the legislation, expected today, finally, is likely to make the payments still leaner in later years.

    The results, according to independent analyses, would be major reductions in federal spending on Medicaid over time. States would be left deciding whether to raise more money to make up the difference, or to cut back on medical coverage for people using the program. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the changes would lead to a reduction in spending on Medicaid of more than $800 billion over a decade. (That figure also includes additional cuts to the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.)

    2. As Thune is photographed with this group, always at McConnell’s side “the 2018 House map still favors Republicans, and the party is defending far fewer Senate seats than Democrats. Aggressively gerrymandered districts provide another layer of defense, as does voter suppression, and the avalanche of spending from outside groups. Americans might be hurt and outraged by the effects of the AHCA, but those barriers blunt the electoral impact.

    Why worry about the consequences of your policies when you can preclude defeat by changing the ground rules of elections, spending vast sums, and stoking cultural resentment? The republican ground game.

    While much of Washington fixates on Donald Trump and his scandals, a small band of Senate Republicans [apparently including thune] is working—in secret—on a bill that would slash health insurance for tens of millions of Americans and jeopardize access for millions more. And they’re doing this on a… fast track meant to preclude debate. Once the working group emerges from its cloister, the bill will be scored by the Congressional Budget Office, and then—in a sharp break with procedure—bypass the committee process and go straight to the floor without a public hearing. There are even suggestions that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will use legislative gamesmanship to avoid debate entirely, so Republicans can pass the bill without any discussion of its contents and provisions.

    As Paul Ryan did in the House of Representatives, McConnell intends to restructure one-sixth of the American economy with as little input as possible, freezing out experts, industry representatives, and Democratic lawmakers.

    This, despite overwhelming opposition from the public; in one recent poll, just 23 percent of respondents said they approved of the Republican health care bill. (June 16 2017) The Senate’s Health Care Secrecy Is a Breathtaking Contempt for Democracy: Millions will suffer, for a tax cut. Jamelle Bouie, Slate

    A Roper Center analysis shows the proposal with just 29 percent support, making it the most unpopular piece of legislation Congress has considered in decades. And…there is no state in the union where a majority of voters support the bill.

    3. At the same time, as we must not give in to distraction, keeping our eyes on thune who is serving the 1% emasculating our health care security, remember “Chuck Grassly, veteran Republican old-school Iowa senator, took charge of the Judiciary panel two years ago, has been hammering out the parameters of an investigation with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on probing Comey’s dismissal, as well as potential political interference at the Justice Department under the Obama administration. Grassley and Feinstein, along with two other key senators in the Russia probe, met with special counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday.

    Grassley, 80, said: “I can’t look at whether the president is a Republican or a Democrat. My constitutional responsibility of oversight stays the same.”

    Note while the committee may look into matters of obstruction of justice, the panel itself cannot prosecute crimes. There’s the Intelligence Committee, there’s the Judiciary Committee and there’s the Special Counsel….but this panel’s probe will likely have to take a back seat, if Mueller asks them to avoid particular areas.

    Grassley’s plan to look at potential issues of political interference at the Obama-era DOJ: Comey testified earlier this month that the conduct of former Attorney General Loretta Lynch prompted him to convene last summer’s extraordinary news conference where he announced that he was not pursuing criminal charges against Hillary Clinton.

    Democrats remain skeptical that Grassley will do anything of consequence that angers GOP leaders. They note that he marched in lock-step with the party as it blocked Garland.

    Mitch McConnell might prefer Grassley direct his energies elsewhere, trying to get the Judiciary chairman to back off ….
    But Grassley says he’s tried to argue to Trump that keeping a close eye on the federal bureaucracy is consistent with his campaign pledge to “drain the swamp.”

    ahh, the complexities of finding truth, for republicans :)


    So, we democrats, independents and progressives, failed to elect HRC, for whatever reasons, and we are paying a HEAVY, HEAVY price for this failure to cooperate. climate denial. Obstruction of Obama’s 8 years. Loss of Merrick Garland to deviousness of a Gorsuch appointment. Obstruction of justice by trump. Yet a third form of obstruction is the republican charge, that democrats ect. restisting trump are obstructionist. puke.

    It never ends, but it starts in SD w/Thune, the governor’s race, with Noem’s empty seat.

    Will we, Dems, Progressives and Independents make the same mistake twice? Remember what happened when Gore lost? War in Afghanistan, Iraq, now Syria. Trillions wasted. Millions dead and wounded and scared for life. Terrorism.

  22. AAHC above, not AHCA

  23. scarred

  24. …in all of this one has to wonder, what’s next for the citizens of South Dakota. Our poor, our elderly, our disabled, our children, our Veterans, our families, and ourselves. Do we all have perfect health? Can we afford the coverage? Can our family member’s afford coverage? Will thune, rounds, noem use their bank accounts to help our people? There will be two republicans running for governor, noem and jackley. If one of these are voted in, we will still be having this same conversation afterwards between just us. Because they are obviously not listening to us when we call them…maybe they are playing golf with Trump and Puttie..