By Doug Porter
While the CNN vs Neo-Nazis battle continues, and Donald Trump is busy negotiating parking permits for Russian tanks in Washington DC, the Republican plan for Wealthcare is getting tweaked for another run through the Senate.
Keep your eyes on the prize, folks, because Repeal and Replace may soon be transformed into to just plain old abolishment. Evidently, 22 or 23 million people losing access to health care wasn’t enough–now Republicans are shooting for 32 million.
This behind the scenes action on Capitol Hill comes as progressives in 21 states are calling for sit-ins outside the offices of GOP senators.
From USA Today:
The groups, including Our Revolution, which is affiliated with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the Working Families Party and Democracy Spring, say hundreds will risk arrest as they converge on 21 states, with key events targeting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as well as Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. The protests are notable in that they also target GOP strongholds, including Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas.
“Trumpcare has never been about health care,” said Working Families Party national director Dan Cantor. “It’s a naked attempt to steal health care from millions of Americans in order to pay for massive tax cuts for the richest people in history. It’s despicable. Even Republican senators must know in their hearts that this is wrong. But still they press forward,” Cantor said in a statement.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz also has an idea, one guaranteed to destabilize the insurance markets, provide all the tax breaks in the current plan, and look less evil while doing it. His ‘Consumer Freedom Option’ would segregate sicker consumers into Obamacare-type plans, with subsidies pegged to plans with higher deductibles and less coverage.
In order words, if you’re working poor and need insurance, you’d better give up eating on alternate days of the week so you can save up for the eventuality of getting sick.
Back in the days when President Obama was the only bulwark against this kind of insanity, fifty-two Senate Republicans passed an ACA repeal bill (H.R. 3762) with no replacement. It defunded Planned Parenthood. Granted it was a symbolic vote, but it’s worth noting that several of the so-called GOP moderates are said to wavering on.
The other Senator from Texas, John Cornyn, would like us all to believe losing access to affordable health insurance is simply a byproduct of freedom.
From Think Progress:
The concept appears to be catching on in GOP circles. According to Bloomberg reporter Steven Dennis, a “frequent GOP talking point in Senate hallways” is that 22 million people “won’t be ‘losing’ health insurance, they’ll be ‘choosing’ to go without.”
Cornyn’s talking point invokes a line infamous used by then-Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) in March. Pressed during a CNN interview about whether he’s concerned Trumpcare’s reduced tax incentives and lack of individual mandate will result in less people having insurance, Chaffetz suggested low-income people forego new iPhones and purchase coverage instead.
“And you know what? Americans have choices, and they’ve gotta make a choice,” Chaffetz said. “And so maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care. They’ve gotta make those decisions themselves.”
The cost of a new iPhone 7 without a contract is roughly $700. By comparison, the per-capita cost of health care in the U.S. last year was $10,345.
At the same time, President Trump and other Republicans continue to beat the drum with messaging saying Obamacare is doomed to implode. What they’re not saying is they are the causes of most of the instability on the health care markets.
From New York Magazine:
So why are we reading all these stories about insurers pulling out of markets and premiums going way up? Oliver Wyman, an actuarial firm, examines the markets and concludes that at least two-thirds of the higher premiums next year are due to political uncertainty created by the Trump administration and Congress. The administration is threatening to withhold payments insurers are owed under the law, and also not to enforce the individual mandate. These deliberate efforts to subvert the exchanges are having their intended effect. But the underlying expected cost of insuring patients is low — without a government engaged in deliberate sabotage, the firm estimates premiums would only rise 5–8 percent, a very modest level by the historic standards of health insurance costs.
Expect the Senate to delay any vote until July 17th at the earliest, as ideas get bounced off the parliamentarian (to make sure they meet the requirements for a simple majority vote) and the Congressional Budget Office.
In a flurry of deal-making, GOP leaders made some inroads in building support after a vote was called off last week by adding opioid funding, allowing health savings accounts to pay for insurance premiums and potentially leaving some taxes in place to pay for more generous benefits. Republicans are strongly leaning toward leaving taxes on the wealthy in place after absorbing weeks of Democratic criticism that their bill offered tax cuts for the rich and Medicaid cuts for the poor.
However, there is unlikely to be a consensus new draft of the bill next week until there’s tentative buy-in from the vast majority of the 52-member caucus.
“We’re making progress on it. … Until everything’s decided, nothing’s decided,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) late last week. “We’re talking to the parliamentarian, we’re trying to figure out what’s doable.”
As we all should have learned from experience with the GOP’s healthcare bill in the House of Representatives, much of this delay is also motivated by hoping that constituent pressure will ease.
Here in California, the fight for universal health care legislation goes on.
Supporters of SB 562 went to Sacramento on Monday to express their anger over the decision by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon to shelve the measure.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Backers of the bill, SB 562, disrupted a separate hearing on the Assembly floor by unfurling a banner from the gallery before being escorted out. They also attended a hearing of the Assembly Rules Committee, the panel in which Rendon held back the bill, holding up signs on which they’d written personal healthcare stories. And a small contingent staged a “sit-in” near Rendon’s office, chanting “SB 562.”
The question over whether such a measure is doable has been at the center of a debate among Democrats. While the concept of universal healthcare seems to be widely supported, the path forward is the subject of fierce debate. And everybody seems to agree–at least on paper–that SB562 is not dead. Yet.
To be honest, I’m confused. The idea of an internecine fight among California Democrats while Trump is busy unraveling the rest of the New Deal doesn’t appeal to me. On the other hand, if some variation of Medicare for All is possible then we need to fight for it.
Once again, I feel like I’m being asked to choose between supporting mutually assured self-destruction or corporate whores.
Following are some articles that may be helpful in understanding what’s going on.
CALIFORNIA SINGLE-PAYER ORGANIZERS ARE DECEIVING THEIR SUPPORTERS. IT’S TIME TO STOP The Intercept’s brutal takedown of SB562.
CNA Responds to The Intercept Michael Lighty, the director of public policy at CNA, gives a point by point rebuttal of the Intercept article.
That’s all I’ve got on this, for now.
Finally…‘Have you seen the other guys?’
A fundraising effort by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), has blown up on social media.
Dems are asking people to vote on a new sticker and I’m not sure anyone in history has been as bad at this. pic.twitter.com/isYaZV60Dp
— Mazel Tov Cocktail (@AdamSerwer) July 5, 2017
Come on Dems. Really? Is this the best you can do? And will you please stop trying to appropriate the term ‘resistance?’
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.
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