The “American Health Care Act,” which I’ll keep calling Trump/Ryancare and which squeaked through the House yesterday, is a bit of a fraud. It neither repeals nor replaces The Affordable Care Act, which Republicans succeeded in dubbing Obamacare.
Instead, if it becomes law, it would leave most of Obamacare in place. How can you call that “repeal” or “replace?” It makes a few changes, almost all of which are beneficial to rich people (who would stand to get a big tax cut) and health insurance companies, who would have increased flexibility to avoid insuring people on whom they stood to lose money. Many people — especially sick people and working poor people and especially sick poor people in red states — will lose coverage or have to pay more for it.
Personally, I am offended by the apparent need felt by House Republicans to rush it to final passage without allowing the Congressional Budget Office to score the bill. Presumably, the CBO will soon issue its report on how Trump/Ryancare is likely to affect costs and coverage. If the House Republicans (no Democrats voted for the bill) are proud of this accomplishment, they should stop lying about it (a start could be dropping the insultingly false “repeal and replace” gag) and allow the country to know what effects the CBO’s impartial number-crunchers think the law will cause.
On the CBO point: Republicans will say either that the CBO is biased against them (which is pretty ridiculous since the CBO works for the Republican-controlled Congress) or that the CBO projections often turn out to be wrong. The latter point is reasonable, if they add that no one can really project the long-term future impact of a bill like this with a high confidence of perfect accuracy.
The CBO has a solid reputation of honestly projecting these things as best as it can. It exists so Congress can have the benefit of a neutral, expert analysis before it votes. Rushing something this big, complicated and important through the House without the benefit of CBO’s analysis strikes me as an admission that the CBO report will be embarrassing to those who voted for it.
Since no one asked me, here’s a small very sensible (IMHO) suggestion: Both houses of Congress should have a rule preventing a vote on final passage of a bill of this magnitude and complexity without waiting for CBO analysis. Or else just shut the CBO down and use the savings to help some sick, poor people.
Of course, I’m making too much of the passage of the bill without a CBO score, because the analysis will be ready before the Senate votes, and there seems to be widespread agreement that Trump/Ryancare will not probably pass the Senate as written. It just stinks to not wait for a neutral expert analysis of the bill by the agency that the Congress created for that purpose.
By the way, have I mentioned recently that President Trump (who claims to be thrilled with Trump/Ryancare as it stands), said as a candidate his health care plan would cover everyone and the government would pay for it.
I’ve written about this before, and I know how rude it is to bring up what a candidate promised when he wanted everyone’s vote, but here’s a taste of what Trump said about his health care reform idea last September, after he was the nominee, in an interview with Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes”:
TRUMP: “Everybody’s got to be covered. This is an un-Republican thing for me to say because a lot of times they say, ‘No, no, the lower 25 percent that can’t afford private. But —’ ”
PELLEY: “Universal health care.”
TRUMP: “I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.”
PELLEY: “The uninsured person is going to be taken care of. How? How?”
TRUMP: “They’re going to be taken care of. I would make a deal with existing hospitals to take care of people. And, you know what, if this is probably —”
PELLEY: “Make a deal? Who pays for it?”
TRUMP: “— the government’s gonna pay for it. But we’re going to save so much money on the other side. But for the most it’s going to be a private plan and people are going to be able to go out and negotiate great plans with lots of different competition with lots of competitors with great companies and they can have their doctors, they can have plans, they can have everything.”
Finally, if you want some Left and Right instant analysis of the bill that passed yesterday, you could do worse than read the instant analyses from the liberal New Republic and the conservative Weekly Standard.
Brian Beutler’s piece in The New Republic is headlined, “The Republican Health Plan Is a Lethal Moral Obscenity.” So you can tell where he’s going.
Chris Deaton’s piece in The Weekly Standard, headlined “Republicans Shove Health Bill Across Finish Line,” is (as the headline implies) less enthusiastic in favor of Trump/RyanCare than is Beutler against it. You’ll learn a lot by reading both, so I’ll just shut up for now.