GOP senator shrugs on new healthcare bill: ‘Well, nothing protects everyone’

Healthcare is complicated. For the average American, policy details are too convoluted to make sense of, and elected officials can do a good job of winning over support for shitty legislation simply by counting on the plebs being too overwhelmed by a bill’s complexities to recognize they’re being fleeced.

But sometimes you get a bill that’s so plainly bad — so bereft of any communicable idea of what it does, why it should be enacted, and how it will improve American lives — that even members of Congress are lost as to how to justify its existence. That bill is Graham-Cassidy, and when Vox asked nine GOP senators a simple question — what does this legislation do? — it became clear just how little it’s concerned with bettering our country’s healthcare system, and how much of it is simply a big fuck you to President Obama.

Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana, for example, had this to say of the bill:

Vox’s Jeff Stein: What are the main policy explanations for getting behind this bill? What does this bill do right, policy-wise?

Kennedy: I think it’s an improvement over Obamacare.

Stein: Why?

Kennedy: My position has always been that, number one, I think Obamacare has been a failure. Number two: First chance I get to vote for repeal it, I’ll do it. And number three: If it’s replacement, if replacement is better than Obamacare, I will vote for it.

Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma fell back on vague platitudes about states’ rights, even while acknowledging the bill was pretty shitty for the states:

Stein: What’s the policy explanation for the Graham-Cassidy bill? What substantive problems does this solve?

Inhofe: Well, first of all, as a general rule the states do things better than the federal government does [things]. And that is essentially what the bill is…

Stein: I understand what you’re saying with the states having the ability to make these decisions, but the bill doesn’t just “give states more freedom” — it also cuts federal funding to the states. So it’s not just about giving the states more control; it’s also about cutting federal expenditures, right?

Inhofe: Well, yes, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be — I think the efficiencies that come with transferring the funding to the states can very well make up the difference between what the federal thing would be. A philosophical difference — you know?

Stein: No, what do you mean?

Inhofe: I mean it’s more efficient when it’s done from the states, and so they can do it with less money.

Stein: Are you confident, and how do you know those savings will be close to enough to protect everyone?

Inhofe: Well, nothing protects everyone.

Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, however, really sums up the GOP’s commitment to the health and well-being of Americans better than any of his colleagues could.

Roberts: [Graham-Cassidy] is the last stage out of Dodge City. I’m from Dodge City. So it’s the last stage out to do anything. Restoring decision-making back to the states is always a good idea, but this is not the best possible bill — this is the best bill possible under the circumstances.

Stein: But why does this bill make things better for Americans? How does it help?

Roberts: Pardon me?

Stein: Why does this make things better? What is this doing?

Roberts: Look, we’re in the back seat of a convertible being driven by Thelma and Louise, and we’re headed toward the canyon. That’s a movie that you’ve probably never seen —

Stein: I do know Thelma and Louise, sir.

Roberts: So we have to get out of the car, and you have to have a car to get into, and this is the only car there is.

You heard it straight from the senator’s mouth, readers. Graham-Cassidy is “the only car there is.” Read the rest of the GOP’s glowing reviews of the healthcare bill they’re trying to shove down our throats over at Vox.

[photo: Getty]