By Doug Porter
The White House is leaning on Congress to take action on yet another version of a healthcare bill.
Negotiated by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, and Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), co-chairman of the centrist Tuesday Group, with help from the White House, this edition features further weakening of ObamaCare protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
The current requirement for health insurance to include basic coverage for maternity, prescription drugs, emergency services, lab tests, and etc., would be subject to review by the states. Women will be subject to higher rates than men. And if you get sick… well, let’s just say you can’t afford to actually use ZombieCare V.3.0.
Health insurance that lacks these essential health benefits is worth as much as an education from Trump University pic.twitter.com/8yTNbF4ZWa
— Chris Lu (@ChrisLu44) March 23, 2017
This bill is so bad House Republicans included a provision exempting members of Congress and their staff from the most odious aspects of the measure.
From Think Progress:
But there’s another level of hypocrisy at play here, at least for the Republican lawmakers who have been around since the original Obamacare fight in 2009 and 2010. Back then, during the debate over the passage of the Affordable Care Act, GOP leaders argued it’s only fair to require Congress to participate in any health insurance overhaul it imposes on the country.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) led the Republican grandstanding campaign at the time. As Obamacare‘s architects crafted state-level exchanges where people who do not get coverage through their job could buy insurance, Grassley and others attacked Democrats for not offering to participate in the exchanges themselves. Nevermind that lawmakers and federal staffers already get insurance through their employer and thus are not part of the population served by the exchanges; Grassley insisted “that Congress should live under the same laws it passes for the rest of the country.”
Republicans fought to add in language requiring federal lawmakers to buy their health insurance through the new systems created by the law, rather than continuing to receive the same employer-based insurance that covers all other federal workers.
Democrats, after initially trying to explain the policy incoherence of Grassley’s demagoguery, eventually shrugged and agreed. The Grassley Amendment became part of the final law; Congress and its staffers got shoved off their employer-sponsored health care and into the individual market where the Iowa Republican wanted them.
Of course now that word about the exemption has leaked out after being flagged by health law professor Tim Jost, Republicans are stumbling all over themselves to say they didn’t know.
From Talking Points Memo:
“I don’t know about that. That’s a good question,” said Rep. Scott Desjarleis (R-TN).
“I’ll have to read the language more closely,” answered Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA).
“I didn’t know there was [an exemption for members of Congress]. I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) told reporters.
Like the hapless attempt by Republicans to all but eliminate the Office of Congressional Ethics earlier this year, this latest bit of stupidity won’t survive through today.
Boom! The slick trick didn’t even make it through the morning. This just in, via Vox:
On Wednesday morning, Rep. MacArthur issued a statement saying he would work to eliminate this exemption:
Congressman MacArthur does not believe Members of Congress or their staff should receive special treatment and is working with House Leadership to make absolutely clear that Members of Congress and staff are subject to the same rules, provisions, and protections as all other Americans.
An aide in MacArthur’s office tells me that the provision was inserted at the request of the Senate Budget Committee, in order to comply with the rules of Senate reconciliation. It is still not clear, however, what exactly the rules issue was, and why this particular provision was needed to fix it.
Not So Fast! They’ve walked that idea back.
Interesting wrinkle – MacArthur says they’ll close the exemption for Congress, but only do it *after* the amendment passes. https://t.co/AEMuRO9hdb
— Sarah Kliff (@sarahkliff) April 26, 2017
The rest of the bill will proceed, backed by the House Freedom Caucus.
Issa won’t say a word to reporters on his position
— Peter Sullivan (@PeterSullivan4) April 26, 2017
Brute Force Lobbying
It’s clear to me the administration was hoping to capitalize on the “healthcare reform is dead’ sentiment in the media to try and pull a fast one the American public. According to a recent Gallop poll, the Affordable Care Act has majority backing (55%) for the first time ever.
The Club for Growth and FreedomWorks have joined forces with the administration to pressure House leaders to schedule a floor vote on the revised measure.
White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney threatened to cut off crucial ObamaCare payments as soon as next month during a Tuesday evening call with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, according to The Hill. The administration apparently was hoping to gain leverage on both the latest health care legislation and a continuing budget resolution aimed at preventing a government shutdown.
Remember, this latest attempt by the extremists in Congress amounts to a small tweak on the last failed bill.
It’s time to light up the phones.
Here’s how you do it, courtesy of the Indivisible Guide.
Click on the link below:
Find your Member of Congress number here!
Also in the news…
Mar-a-Lago to Add More Watersports Facilities
New studies indicate ocean levels are rising faster…
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.
Frank Gormlie says
Where did you get that incredible Mar-a-lago graphic?? Just had to repost it by itself.
Doug Porter says
It comes via Climate Central, referenced in link above the graphic: http://www.climatecentral.org/news/extreme-sea-level-rise-stakes-for-america-21387?utm_content=buffer6a808&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer