FINAL SHOWDOWN ON HEALTH CARE NEXT WEEK
Mitch McConnell has been busily negotiating behind closed doors to revise the Senate’s GOP health care bill. The Senate Majority Leader has anywhere from $200 billion to $300 billion in his pocket to pay bribes to wavering Senators who are on the fence. Moreover, sources behind closed doors have said that McConnell has threatened to strip Senators of their committee chairs if they don’t vote for Trump Care.
Despite all of that pressure, McConnell still doesn’t have the necessary 50 votes to pass the bill. A heterogeneous coalition of moderate, radical and just plain conservative Republican Senators remain opposed to Trump Care. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz don’t think the bill is cruel enough. The likes of Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski are concerned that millions of Americans would lose coverage. Even two conservative Senators from states with ag based economies — John Hoeven of North Dakota and Jerry Moran of Kansas — have come out against McConnell’s bill. They are justifiably concerned that the bill will devastate rural hospitals.
Trump Care is in jeopardy because it is simply awful legislation. It takes away insurance from 22 million Americans to fund a big tax cut for the top 1%. In addition, it guts the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) pre-existing condition protections. This bill is so bad that the Congress will use a loophole to exempt themselves from it and keep the ACA’s consumer protections for themselves — while many of their constituents suffer.
One of the reasons why Trump Care is so bad is due to the secretive process surrounding it’s genesis. There have been no public hearings, no expert testimony, no committee markups, no bipartisan discussions and still no final text even though the vote is scheduled for sometime next week. Going through the usual legislative process would have further exposed the many bad features of the bill and possibly led to some improvements.
The Republicans say they need to pass Trump Care to keep their seven year promise to repeal and replace the ACA. However, Trump promised to replace the ACA with “something terrific” and “great health care at a tiny fraction of the cost.” The GOP promised to replace the ACA with a Cadillac and after seven long years, all they have produced is a broken down old Yugo.
Perhaps the biggest reason why the GOP is having such a hard time repealing the ACA is because it has already done a lot of good. That’s why a majority of the American people now approve of the ACA. In contrast, the approval rating for Trump Care ranges anywhere from 12% to 27%.
The ACA has insured 20 million additional Americans and had reduced the uninsured rate from 18% to an all time low of 8.6% as of September 2016. In addition, the ACA has reduced medical bankruptcies by 50% and has led to 50,000 fewer preventable hospital deaths. It’s become increasingly clear that Republicans hate the idea of Obamacare but not the reality of its benefits.
At the same time, three separate recent reports indicate that — contrary to the GOP’s talking points — the ACA isn’t imploding and that most of the marketplaces are stable. The Congressional Budget Office, Standard & Poor’s and the Department of HHS have all found that the markets are stabilizing and the insurance companies are making money on the ACA exchanges.
Despite those successes, the GOP wants to wreck all of that progress by pushing through a bill drafted in secret on a straight party line vote sometime next week. McConnell has said that if he can’t pass Trump Care by the end of the month, he will go to the Democrats (at last) and seek out a bi-partisan solution to health care.
The Democrats have made it clear that they will work on a bi-partisan reform of the ACA if the GOP drops their obsession with repeal. Possible fixes could include a public option in areas where there is too little insurance competition, more generous subsidies for the purchase of insurance and the continuation of the cost sharing subsidies program that keeps premiums and deductibles low for working families.
If we can stop McConnell this month, we could open the door to a bi-partisan reform to the health care system. Please call your Senators at 202–224–3121 and urge a no vote on Trump Care and a bi-partisan solution.
If Trump Care should pass, the health care system will most likely collapse and millions of Americans will suffer. If we can stop Trump Care, there are no guarantees that the Republicans in Congress would agree to any bi-partisan reforms. There is a very good chance that the Trump Administration and the Republicans in Congress could destroy the ACA by continued sabotage. After all, Trump has said: “The best thing politically is to let Obamacare explode.”
If the GOP should succeed in destroying the ACA, we must move towards a Medicare for all system. Just about every other First World industrialized country on the planet has something akin to Medicare for all. Those countries get better health care outcomes for about half of what we spend in the U.S.
If we are to achieve Medicare for all, we must be politically active. We would have to win the 2018 and 2020 elections. That means we all must never take a day off. We will have to contribute to and volunteer for good candidates. That’s what it will take. Now let’s get it done!