If you thought Trumpcare was dead, think again. Like a zombie rising from the graveyard, the Trump administration today pitched a new version to far-right wing conservatives that would strip even more rights from patients and give states an opportunity to dump some of the other key provisions of the existing Obamacare law.
Vice-President Mike Pence went to Capitol Hill to personally present the revisions to the Freedom Caucus, the group of ultra right-wing Conservatives and Tea Party members, who refused to support Trump’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) as a replacement for Obamacare, because it did not cut the cost deeply enough.
The two big toxic olive branches being dangled in front of the far-right Congressmen would make it much easier for insurance companies to deny a patient coverage because of a pre-existing condition, and the other would allow states to get a waiver from the rules which mandate that insurance companies must include certain kinds of coverage in any plan they offer consumers.
The changes are so dreadful that some middle-of-the-road Republicans are now re-thinking their support for the Trumpcare bill entirely, although it is unclear if they will act.
Pence and the Trump senior officials were pushing for a vote on Trumpcare 3.0 within a week, which would be too quick to get an analysis done by the Congressional Budget Office. That might be part of the plan since the provision on pre-conditions is so vague about how much insurers will be able to jack up rates, it may be impossible to determine a real price tag.
The other surprise is that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and other Congressional leaders are not leading the charge this time. This appears to be a White House operation that could marginalize Ryan’s role as punishment for not ramrodding the last version of Trumpcare through the House of Representatives.
The Trump team tried to convince moderates that this wasn’t a big change because insurance companies still could not deny a patient for a pre-existing condition. However, the new version impacts the “community rating” which allows the insurers to jack up the rates for anyone who has cancer, diabetes, heart problems or any other pre-existing condition.
That means the cost could go so high that many people at a time they are in the most need would be priced out of the market.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the Freedom Caucus chairman said, according to The Hill that there is “no deal in principle” but “there is a solid idea that was offered…We’re certainly encouraged by the progress we seem to be making.”
Meadows thinks the changes could result in some Freedom Caucus members shifting from a “no” to a “yes” vote, but said they have to study the actual legislative language and make sure they consider it adequate.
Chris Collins (R-NY), who is a member of the Tuesday Group, composed of more moderate Republicans, and a close Trump ally, said this new version of Trumpcare could move quickly to passage.
To modify the moderates, Trump officials discussed diverting funds from a $115 billion stability fund that would be established to high-risk pools so people with pre-existing conditions could get help with higher insurance premiums.
“It’s an acknowledgment,” said Collins, “that they were chasing votes with the Freedom Caucus and the Far Right and then ended up losing votes with those of us who are typically the most reliable votes.”
For those who have come to depend on Obamacare, and in some cases have had their lives saved by the Affordable Care Act, this is more terrible news. After the relief last week when Trumpcare seemed to have sunk under its own weight, the madness gets worse wth this new version.
This could get rejected in the Senate even if it passes the House, and Democrats could filibuster against this dangerous and deadly new version. But it just proves when Trump has a bad idea, whether it is wiretapping or some other imagined slight, he just keeps chewing on it until there is blood in the water.
This time it could be the blood of the most vulnerable people in our society.