What Was the American Health Care Act?

As usual, the American people were the last to know when it came to the contents of the American Health Care Act. One of the elements, which the Freedom Caucus initially opposed but finally came around to, was the large group of people with access to neither Medicaid, Medicare, employer-supported, nor individual health insurance.

 

That would be most of us thrown out of work either completely or into part-time jobs with no health insurance just after the 2008 economic collapse, and in the ensuing years.

 

This was a bill that not only the Freedom Caucus but even Moderate Republicans initially opposed. Once they were reconciled to health care for the chronically unemployed did Ryan come close to having the votes to pass the bill no one really wanted.  Those 17 Freedom Caucus members stood fast against the bill.

 

The bill would have granted $35 billion to the insurance companies that wrote the bill and according to Congressman Mel Brooks (R-Ala.), speaking on the Glenn Beck program today, turn 10 million people into welfare recipients.

 

Obamacare was an octopus of a program that reached its tentacles into every aspect of our personal lives, employment, business, and government. What businessman would sign a 2,000-plus page contract?

 

Yet Pres. Trump, apparently more concerned with his first-quarter legacy than truly serving the American people, declared war on the Freedom Caucus. We who are unemployed are relieved to hear that he championed us.  However, waging Twitter War on them will only damage his reputation in the long run?

 

When in doubt about what is going on in Washington, D.C., I turn to my favorite Conservative magazine as a resource. This is what the editor’s published on the magazine’s website this morning concerning the American Health Care Act and the Freedom Caucus.

 

“In Defense of the Freedom Caucus”

 

By the National Review Editors

 

The demise of the American Health Care Act, House Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House’s ill-fated effort to reform Obamacare, has prompted a cascade of finger-pointing as Republicans try to assign blame for their recent embarrassment. The White House and much of the Republican establishment have settled on a familiar scapegoat:  the famously stubborn 30 or so members of the House Freedom Caucus.  On Thursday morning, President Trump tweeted:  “The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast.  We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!”

 

We have been not infrequent critics of the Freedom Caucus, often seem oblivious to Ronald Reagan’s observation that “my 80 percent friend is not my 20 percent enemy.” There is no doubt that members of the caucus can be frustrating and prone to unrealistic tactical maximalism.

 

Yet in this latest episode, the Freedom Caucus was mostly in the right (and it wasn’t just them – members from all corners of the House GOP found it impossible to back the bill). The American Health Care Act was a kludge of a health-care policy.  Described as a way to simultaneously repeal key elements of the Affordable Care Act and replace them with market-oriented reforms, the bill in its final form managed to do little of either.

 

Freedom Caucus members were particularly concerned about the willingness of House leaders to leave the vast majority of Obamacare’s regulations on the books – after Republicans spent seven years promising that the party would “repeal and replace Obamacare.” Even the rationale that the AHCA would be better than nothing was hard to justify; it probably would have further destabilized the individual market, while millions fewer would have been insured.

 

No wonder that strong-arming on behalf of the bill didn’t work. According to news reports, in the final hours, the White House adviser Steve Bannon to tell obstinate Freedom Caucus members that they “have no choice” but to vote for the bill.  It’s hard to imagine a less effective pitch to a group that has long accused Republican leaders of trying to coerce Conservatives into falling in line against their principles.

 

In any case, the now-or-never rhetoric around the bill has now been exposed as a convenient exaggeration. The House is exploring whether it can revive the repeal-and-replace effort, as it should.  Some members of the Freedom Caucus are demanding an immediate, straight-up repeal of the Affordable Care Act, or at least of its taxes and spending, which is unrealistic.  But for all their reputed rigidity, most of the Freedom Caucus had accepted the inclusion in the Ryan bill of tax credits for people without access to Medicare, Medicaid, or employer-provided insurance – a policy they had previously tended to oppose.

 

That the president has decided to declare war, at least rhetorically, on this bloc of his own party’s congressional majority is a reminder of one of the other key elements of the AHCA collapse: For all of the praise heaped on the president’s negotiating acumen, he has yet to demonstrate it in his dealings with Congress.

 

Trump’s tweet has all the hallmarks of ineffectually blowing off steam, since it’s hard to imagine the president and his supporters following through with the organizing and funding it would take to try to take out Conservative members representing deep-red districts.

 

If Trump wants to win over the Freedom Caucus – all the other members – who opposed the health-care legislation, the first step should be obvious, if more difficult and less satisfying than popping off on Twitter: Get them a better bill.

 

In order for the tax reform bill to go through, the repeal of Obamacare is imperative. Pres. Trump is still in his honeymoon period as a president.  He needn’t feel defensive if the first bill he supports doesn’t go through.  Perfectionist that he is reputed to be, he himself has sent newly-remodeled planes back to the hangar until the workers get it right.

The American Health Care Act was a Spruce Goose. Working with the Democrats will only bring back more of Obamacare into the plan, not remove it.

 

The American people (especially we late-career workers tossed to the curb by the Obama Administration) need jobs. We need insurance that we can afford.  We don’t actually need a whole lot of insurance.

 

We don’t need insurance companies and lobbyists telling us that we didn’t pay our fair share when we did and that that’s the reason premiums are so high. From our point-of-view, we’ve been royally cheated.  We (and our employers) paid the premiums.  Then when it came time when we might actually need the insurance, before that could happen, we were all shoved out of the bees’ nest.  Explain that, Freedom Caucus.

 

For this, the Trump administration is going to reward the insurance company with $35 billion of our money. That doesn’t sound like a very good deal to me.

 

Bullying Congress, no matter how recalcitrant, is not presidential.  Congress is a co-equal branch of the government.  The best way to win over Congress is to support a bill that lowers premiums, keeps the government out of the doctors’ office, reduces medical fraud, and eliminates all the regulations that stifle the insurance industry.

 

 

 

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Published in: on March 31, 2017 at 12:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

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