President Donald Trump has made an absurd gamble on the passage of the appalling Trumpcare bill (American Health Care Act, or AHCA) today that just might work out in liberals’ favor. The House of Representatives delayed the vote on the bill that was scheduled for yesterday because it became abundantly clear that too many Republicans planned to vote it down.
Trying to disgruntled Republicans into action, Trump has given them an ultimatum: either Trumpcare passes today, or he will allow Obamacare (Affordable Care Act, or ACA) remain intact for the rest of his presidency.
There are some moderate Republicans who plan to vote ‘no’ today alongside Democrats because the bill will be devastating for millions of Americans, especially the poor, sick, and elderly. The proposed law literally benefits the rich at the expense of the poor, increasing the wealthy’s subsidies and cutting funds away from lower income Americans.
However, the strongest conservative opposition to Trumpcare come from the House Freedom Caucus, a Tea Party group of hardline extremists that believes Trumpcare isn’t already terrible enough.
The Freedom Caucus has already won a couple concessions, making a ‘yes’ vote more likely. The bill no longer requires insurers to cover “essential benefits” enumerated by Obamacare in every plan. These benefits include basics like maternity and newborn care, mental health and addiction care, and emergency room visits.
Eliminating the essential benefits will allow health insurers to drop premiums, but only because they will once again be allowed to charge patients for insurance that doesn’t actually protect them in the case of injury or illness.
The Freedom Caucus is still unsatisfied, however, because the White House refused to revoke the protections for people with pre-existing conditions and the regulation allowing children to remain on their parents’ plans until age 26.
Trump tried to goad them this morning with a juvenile tweet, although the effectiveness of this tactic remains to be seen.
The irony is that the Freedom Caucus, which is very pro-life and against Planned Parenthood, allows P.P. to continue if they stop this plan!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2017
It is still not clear whether the bill will pass. There are a number of Republicans who might change their vote at the last second or who might not show up changing the number of votes needed to pass the bill, but as Salon’s Simon Maloy put it, “if there’s one thing the Freedom Caucus loves, it’s being told how to vote and what their principles are.”
Trump’s “ultimatum” is much more likely to sink the bill, as this tweet from Freedom Caucus member Thomas MAssie (R-KY) indicates:
If Exec branch tells Legislative branch "when 2 vote" "how 2 vote" & "what it will b allowed 2 work on if vote fails," is that a republic?
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) March 24, 2017
No one knows whether Trump is bluffing in his ultimatum, and no one knows which congresspeople are bluffing when they say how they will vote. It has become a high-risk gamble with millions of lives and livelihoods hanging in the balance. This is perverse and twisted game to play at the highest level of American politics.
However, it gives us one last hope of saving Obamacare and saving insurance for 24 million people in the next ten years. Call your representatives today. In this situation, it will really make a difference.
Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin with a double major in creative writing and media studies. She is an advocate of progressive policies and focuses her interests on gender equality and preventing sexual and domestic violence.