A month ago, I wrote a pretty harsh critique of the new administration and its Republican congressional majority because they didn’t have a health care bill ready to replace Obamacare.
Yesterday that changed, sort of but not really, and fairness requires that I acknowledge that several leaders from the House Republican caucus released an outline of what might turn into their big, long-promised repeal-and-replace bill.
It’s important to note that, although the Republicans control the House, there is no guarantee that the bill, when it actually turns into a bill and is introduced, will pass even in the House, and certainly no indication whatsoever of how it will fare in the Senate.
And although President Trump’s spokesman, poor Sean Spicer, released an encouraging statement, the House outline is far, far, far different from the plan that Trump promised during the campaign, that would cost less, cover “everyone” and that the “the government” would pay for it.
It’s important to note that in this release, the backers didn’t provide enough details for neutral parties (like the Congressional Budget Office) to score it so we might know how many people will gain or lose coverage and how much it will cost. That’s the development we need to assess how many of the Republicans’ oft-repeated promises they can fulfill.
The New York Times had a thorough piece about the emerging House Republican leaders’ plan this morning, which I recommend. It is highly noteworthy that, as the Times piece makes clear, it is easy to identify (in fact, they came forward immediately and made statements) Republican senators who are opposed to what they know of the bill because it didn’t get rid of enough elements of Obamacare, and others who are opposed because it gets rid of too much, and the same apparently in the House.
The United States is “exceptional” among the wealthy industrial nations of the world because a large portion of its population lacks health insurance. Obamacare (really, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) cut that portion roughly in half. Personally, I would say that in order to be called an improvement on Obamacare, any replacement program would have to reduce further the ranks of the uninsured.
The House Republican outline would probably not do that, in fact the uninsured number seems likely to go up (for example, it does away with the “mandate” requiring most people to get insurance or pay a penalty), but as I mentioned above, the outline released yesterday withholds many, many of the details necessary to clarify that.
Because the medical device industry is so big in Minnesota, MinnPost’s Washington correspondent Sam Brodey put up a smart piece this morning focusing on what can be inferred about how the partial draft outline might effect that industry. The big news there is that the draft suggests that the bill will repeal the tax on medical devices that had been used to offset some of the costs of Obamacare.
Anyway, because of the harsh tone of my own last piece on the where’s-the-bill topic, I just wanted to acknowledge yesterday’s small news which at least suggests that someday there might be a more complete replacement program that can actually be analyzed.
If you would like to read an unreserved attack on what the House Republicans are up to by the liberal lobby group ThinkProgress, here it is. ThinkProgress has decided to nickname the program “HellCare,” which I take to be a play on “health care.”
But some of the harshest criticism of the came from the right, as rounded up here by The Daily Beast. The Heritage Foundation, the Club for Growth, the American Enterprise Institute, the Tea Party Patriots and Sen. Rand Paul are among those ripping the outline.