Does this sound familiar? Republican and Democratic lawmakers say they don’t fully understand what Trumpcare redux actually includes, but most Republicans are nonetheless lining up to vote for it. We won’t guess their motives, but reports indicate high-dollar donors threaten to withhold millions of dollars in campaign funds if Republicans don’t finally snuff the Affordable Care Act.
So how’s that “drain-the-swamp” thing working for you? Are you OK with things slithering in the muck so long as they slither for your political party?
A year ago Republicans were telling the Trib editorial board that one reason the Affordable Care Act of 2010 could not endure is because it was “forced down the throats of the American people.” Good argument. This begs a reasonable question, though: What does “forced down the throat” mean? Democrats conducted exhaustive committee hearings on the ACA. The process took months. Yet Republicans now scramble to pass another bill without full committee hearings, without crucial information from the Congressional Budget Office to consider.
Too, Republicans told us repeatedly the Affordable Care Act was doomed in the long term because it passed without one Republican vote. Fair argument. So, again, how does this square with their ongoing efforts this year, which have attracted not one Democratic vote? So much for any bipartisanship.
And how can Republican Sen. John McCain even balk at whether to vote against this bill, given that its protocol still violates his supposed principle of regular Senate order for such critical legislation, including hearings? Or was his earlier oratory this summer just political theatrics? And Politico reports that Republican leaders are trying to buy off Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s swing vote by offering her state of Alaska special protections against major Medicaid cuts through 2026. Can she be bought?
There may well be some good reasons for embracing the Graham-Cassidy bill, but without full hearings for it to be as probed and debated as the ACA was, who can say what they are? What we hear doesn’t sound so good. Even if your heart doesn’t extend to the poor, the young and the aged who would be hurt in the savaging of Medicaid — yes, this bill makes cuts to “traditional” Medicaid, not just that expanded under Obamacare — then consider this fact, which may well strike home: This bill would allow states to remove any shackles on premiums now kept at least somewhat in check for those people with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and high-blood pressure. Do you trust the state of Texas to side with you over insurers with deep pockets?
One final thing: This legislation is vigorously opposed by not only the American Medical Association and 16 other organizations representing patients and medical providers but even much of the insurance industry. The latter contends Graham-Cassidy’s state-by-state block grants would spawn health-care anarchy nationwide, confounding medical delivery and any streamlined policy for patients, medical administrators and the insurance industry. Do Republican lawmakers even care? We’ll know by month’s end.