With the exception of insurance company CEO’s and the wealthiest 0.1% of Americans, everyone is unhappy about the Trump/Ryan healthcare repeal. Even the ordinarily obsequious Republicans in Congress are terrified by the premise of campaigning in districts where coverage has plummeted and premiums have spiked. So today, GOP leaders from both chambers in Congress had some unexpected words for the Administration.
Make it more like Obamacare.
They didn’t say it to be funny, and the truth is really quite sad: After years of voting to repeal Obamacare every few weeks, Republicans never gave any serious thought to how it would work. As a result, they embraced the thing they hate most. Literally every Republican demand is already law — signed by President Obama seven years ago as part of the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare).
After a meeting between Vice President Pence, Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price, and Republican Senate Leaders, Mitch McConnell said only that the bill “will be open to amendment in the Senate.” The Associated Press spoke to several of the meeting’s participants and laid out exactly what those amendments would be:
- Target the bill’s new tax credits to lower-earning people (the way Obamacare subsidies are currently administered).
- Retain the benefits seniors currently receive.
- Protect Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.
All that’s missing are the hats: “Make Trumpcare Obamacare Again.”
No word yet on how palatable these changes will be to rank-and-file conservatives in the House and Senate, most of whom have voted 65 times to repeal Obamacare outright. Although, the people in the room (including Pence and Price) voted with them every single time, so time will tell.
One thing is now clear. Out of necessity, Republicans are finally starting to admit that Obamacare wasn’t the catastrophe they have been saying it is (or tried to make it into). After a call with Trump, Nevada Congressman Mark Amodei, said, “If the (CBO) numbers are in the ballpark, it sounds like we’ve gone back to where we started after seven years.” This comes just days after his Kentucky colleague Brett Guthrie goofed at a Pence rally and said Obamacare made things better, not worse.
This is far from an indication that Republicans will abandon attempts to strip healthcare from working families and seniors, but it does show that they are well aware that reality and their grand repeal plan are not getting along. Lucky for them, North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows knows what it will take to reconcile the two.
“Ultimately,” he said, “it will be President Trump that saves this deal.”
Sure. With Obamacare guiding the way.
Sheila Norton is a writer with ten years of Capitol Hill experience. Subscribe to the OD Action email to get all the hottest news delivered right to your inbox every day at www.odaction.com