Which Republican senators will walk the plank for this terrible health-care bill?
Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post June 23, 2017
GOP Senate leaders are presenting to their members for the first time Thursday a concrete health-care plan. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has done what Republicans (falsely) accused Democrats of doing during the Affordable Care Act— drafted a bill in secret, rushed it through and ignored concerns of stakeholders, including governors.
The process is so reckless that you do wonder whether this is all for show. “According to two Republicans in close contact with Senate GOP leadership granted anonymity to describe private conversations, McConnell is threatening to bring the bill to a vote next week even if he doesn’t have the votes to pass it,” The Post reports. “But some believe that message is aimed at trying to pressure Republicans to support the bill, rather than an absolute commitment. A McConnell spokeswoman declined to comment.”
Senators should be smarter than to be bulldozed or bluffed into voting for something that does not meet the president’s or their own goals and which they will barely have time to consider before a vote. Senators should keep in mind the following:
- The bill must be measured against the Affordable Care Act, not the House’s American Health Care Act bill. It’s the ACA their constituents will lose and which will be used to assess whether Trumpcare is more or less generous.
- Thirty-one states expanded Medicaid under the ACA. That works out to 20 GOP senators. They will be asked to vote for a rollback in coverage and thereafter a reduced level of support for beneficiaries, ending Medicaid’s status as an entitlement. If their state must reduce benefits or narrow coverage even further, senators voting for the bill will be held responsible. That includes senators in states Hillary Clinton carried in 2016 — Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev., (the most vulnerable incumbent) and Cory Gardner, R-Colo. Both their governors have inveighed against the Senate and House approach and pleaded with lawmakers to work with governors.
- There are plenty of states in which the ACA substantially lowered the number of uninsured. The nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund found:
“[Nine] states experienced 10 to 13 percentage-point reductions in their adult uninsured rate from 2013 to 2015. Six of these states – California, Kentucky, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and West Virginia — sliced their uninsured rates by at least half over the two years. Some states that did not expand Medicaid as of the beginning of 2015 had declines of as much as 7 to 9 percentage points, including Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas. The ACA’s premium subsidies and insurance marketplaces were available in every state, leading to the decline in uninsured rates in states without the Medicaid expansion.
“By the end of 2015, more than a third of states (17 states and D.C.) had adult uninsured rates below 10 percent, compared to six states and D.C. in 2014 and only Massachusetts and D.C. in 2013. Despite these gains, uninsured rates remained high in some states, including Florida, Oklahoma, and Texas, where at least one of five adults was uninsured. Still, this marks an improvement over 2014, when 10 states had an adult uninsured rate of 20 percent or more, and 2013, when 22 states did.”
No matter how strenuously Republicans claim the number of covered adults doesn’t matter for the vast majority of Americans, coverage means access to health care, especially routine preventative care.
- While the Senate bill purportedly includes a restriction on Planned Parenthood funding, that likely will fall by the wayside in the reconciliation process
- A vote to deprive Americans of health care or limit it may make competitive seats into real pickup chances for Democrats in 2018. These include Heller in Nevada and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. It may also move safe seats into less-safe seats or seats that invite credible primary challengers. That group would include Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Deb Fischer, R-Neb.
- The bill is a huge wealth transfer from poor to rich. Cuts in benefits to low- and middle-income Americans will fund huge tax cuts for the very richest Americans. This will be fodder for opponents to claim that Republicans are phony populists, just another generation of right-wingers who favor the wealthiest among us.
Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.