Today is May Day and the ACA is still alive. Donald Trump’s campaign boast that he would sign a bill repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA/ObamaCare) on his inauguration day is long gone and forgotten. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s gamble that by April 28th the ACA would be effectively decimated using the expedited budget reconciliation process proved to be a sucker’s bet.
Undeterred, White House and House operatives are trying by Wednesday to line up 216 votes—not to pass the Republicans’ American Health Care Act (AHCA) but to feign signs of progress to dampen the white-hot anger of the Republican base at their Party leaders’ inability to enact the ACA repeal promised since the law’s signing on March 23, 2010. They want to take a third run at it this week and perhaps succeed after two prior failures. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, are crossing their fingers hoping that the House fails, sparing the upper chamber the funerary duties. For the Senate to advance ACA repeal now, a new and wholly unimagined bill would need to be constructed.
The level of legislative malpractice evidenced by Speaker Ryan and his team since January is staggering and perplexing. They designed a bill that the Congressional Budget Office estimated would cause 24 million Americans to lose health insurance. They advanced a proposal that provoked public opposition from the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, AARP, and hundreds of other national organizations representing Americans with serious stakes in our health care system. They invented a plan that generated unprecedented grassroots support for the ACA and fierce opposition aimed at them. For the first time, Ryan’s plan turned most Americans into ACA supporters. His legislation generated support from only 17% of Americans, an unheard of level of non-support.
Why did they do this and why do they persist?
Trump and Ryan both showed their hands in recent public statements linking ACA repeal with their tax cut agenda; Trump’s tax plan was released in one-page outline form this past week. To Republicans, the ACA’s poison is not the insurance expansion that bears remarkable resemblance to the two public health insurance programs they have always loved: Medicare Part C or Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Part D, the outpatient prescription drug benefit. Continue reading “MayDay! The ACA Is Still Alive and Still in Danger”