Bill Knight column for Thursday, Friday or Saturday, March 30, 31 or April 1
“Fearing humiliation, Ryan didn’t even have the confidence to bring this sloppily-crafted bill to the House floor for a vote,” said Jeff Weaver with Our Revolution, the independent advocacy group that emerged from Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. “This clumsily-disguised corporate welfare bill was so toxic that it makes you wonder if the reason Republicans hate government so much is because they’re just no good at it.”
However: Hold the celebrations. It mostly lost because it was rushed through the process, and failed to address right-wing extremists who wanted even MORE cuts to health care.
The day after Republicans withdrew the bill, U. S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, urged caution, tweeting, “Don’t gloat; get ready for round 2. Organize!”
True, Resistance raged. Just 17 percent of Americans approved of the bill, according to a Quinnipiac poll. Opposition ranged from the National Nurses United (NNU) labor union and the right-wing extremists of the House Freedom Caucus, to the American Hospital Association, AARP, MoveOn.org and Tea Party Patriots.
“When both patients and physicians are frustrated, we know that only greed is winning, and the blame for that lies with corporations,” said Dr. Cathleen London, a primary-care physician in Milbridge, Maine.
Dan Donovan, a New York Republican, said calls to his office were running about 1,000-to-1 against the bill, reported the New York Times, and Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican, said he’d received 275 calls against the bill and only four in favor.
Illinois would have been hard hit if the GOP bill would’ve gone into effect, according to the Illinois Working Together group, which reported, “State Rep. Greg Harris’s office estimates that 1.3 million Illinoisans [would’ve lost] health insurance coverage; AARP estimates that a 64-year-old making $26,500 a year would see health care premiums jump from $1,700 to $14,600 a year. Plus, an estimated 118,000 people would [have lost] their jobs in Illinois, according to the Center for Health Policy Research.
“One analysis estimated that Illinois stands to lose $40 billion in federal Medicaid funding over the next 10 years” if Tryancare or something like it is enacted, the group said.
The Republican bill would have taken health coverage away from 24 million people; hiked premiums for older people, plus those with lower incomes and living in areas with high medical costs; gutted Medicaid, the program that ensures people struggling the most can get the care they need; trimmed Medicare funding to give a huge tax break to the wealthiest and prescription drug companies; taxed health benefits of millions of working people while giving a huge tax break to health insurers and other companies, summarized the Illinois AFL-CIO.
“Each of the 400 wealthiest [U.S.] households would get an average $7 million tax cut,” said Communications Workers of America president Chris Shelton.
The Republican plan would have repealed popular features of the ACA such as preventing insurer discrimination against women, minimum-covered health benefits (the ones insurers must pay for under ACA, no questions asked) by 2020, and funding for public health and disease prevention.
Tryancare would’ve retained the “Cadillac tax” on good health-care plans, which would hurt unionized workers whose contracts cover them through employers. That scheme would’ve affected 177 million people nationwide, warned Ben Timmins, deputy legislative director of the Fire Fighters. That could have led to companies dropping health insurance, or workers giving it up due to huge cost hikes.
“There are legitimate criticisms of the ACA,” said NNU co-president Jean Ross, a Registered Nurse, “ – the 28 million who remain without health coverage, and the law’s failure to rein in escalating out-of-pocket costs for millions more – [but] the Republican alternative is far worse.”
All 193 House Democrats opposed the measure, and dozens of the 237 Republicans were against Tryancare, for various reasons. For example, two Republican Congressmen – Iowa’s Steve King and Florida’s Ted Yoho – thought the bill remained too generous. King said the Freedom Caucus demanded the repeal of “essential health benefits” – totally insurer-paid coverage of certain conditions, such as most pre-natal care. Yoho went farther, demanding a complete repeal of the ACA – plus Medicare, Medicaid and veterans’ health benefits.
Such opposition should give pause to those pleased with Tryancare’s March defeat.
[PICTURED: Editorial cartoon by Mike Konopacki.]