Mitch McConnell refuses to meet with the March of Dimes on the GOP health care bill


The Senate Republican leader is hiding his deeply unpopular health care bill from fellow members of Congress, the public, and groups dedicated to fighting for the lives of America's patients, including moms and babies.

Our nation's patient advocacy groups are experts in the health care challenges our family members face. They understand the complexities of the medical issues with which they contend and the system they must navigate to get the care they need.

Republicans say they embrace the notion of "patient-centered care" -- health care that serves the values and needs of the patient -- but their leaders' refusal to meet with groups dedicated to advocating for patients, belies that claim.

The March of Dimes, which "funds lifesaving research and programs and works to end premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality," can't get a meeting with Republican leader Mitch McConnell about the Senate health care bill.

Nor can the the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American Diabetes Association, or eleven other patients groups who requested a meeting with McConnell's office next week, offering wide-ranging availability.

In fact, like so many others, they can't get a peak at the bill at all.

“It is deeply disturbing,” Erika Sward, assistant vice president of the American Lung Association, told the Associated Press. “Patients groups like ours need to make sure that our patients’ needs for healthcare will be met. … We can’t do that if we can’t see what is being proposed.”

And what is McConnell's excuse for not meeting with our nation's most valued and respected patients advocacy groups?

He's too busy. According to McConnell's office, “Numerous meetings are already booked well in advance.” Staff schedules are full.

It's a pathetic, empty excuse to continue hiding legislation that will affect tens of millions of Americans' lives and one sixth of our economy. And it's a direct reflection of his utter lack of respect for the American people, who, as McConnell knows, fully disapprove of what he's doing.

The Republican health care bill has been drafted in secret by a committee that includes no women. There have been no public hearings, and few senators have apparently even seen any text of the bill.

It's hard to come up with a group with a more inspiring or important mission than the March of Dimes. But we now know that Mitch McConnell has as much respect for them as the rest of us: none.