Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) seemed to rank covering uninsured Americans as low on his health care priority list during an appearance on Sunday’s episode of Fox News Sunday.
McConnell was expounding on the Republican drive to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with more modest reforms—such as interstate sales of health insurance and tort reform—when Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace asked how the he planned to provide for the growing minority of Americans without coverage.
“That is not the issue,” said McConnell. “Let me tell you what we’re not going to do. We’re not going to turn the American health care system into a Western European system. … We need to clean up the health care the federal government is already responsible for before we start immodestly trying to take over” all of the American healthcare system.
“It’s a big step in the wrong direction,” McConnell said of the Affordable Care Act.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold most of the Affordable Care Act. Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the court’s liberal wing to ensure the survival of the individual mandate, a central provision of the law that requires nearly all Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a fine.
Roberts declared that the individual mandate is constitutional because the penalty for failing to purchase insurance is effectively a tax.
But because of the Senate rules governing tax legislation, McConnell said, the Senate can repeal the mandate with a bare-bones majority of 51 votes, not a filibuster-proof 60-seat supermajority. Senate bills based on taxes can be avoid the filibuster through a process called reconciliation.
“Look, reconciliation is available because the Supreme Court has now declared it a tax,” McConnell said. “They have unearthed the massive deception that was practiced by the president and the Democrats, constantly denying that it was a tax.”