Politics

GOP’s Desperate Search for Obamacare Replacement

The reviews from Democrats — and even some Republicans — were as harsh as the reality of the Congressional Budget Office report.

“The Republican repeal bill takes health care from the poorest of the poor and gives tax cuts to the richest of the rich,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-Louisiana), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. “This bill will require Americans to pay more for less health care, and strip millions of their insurance, especially the most vulnerable — seniors, working class families and those with pre-existing conditions.”

The biggest broken promises in “Trumpcare” are its provisions that would decimate Medicaid and open Medicare up to future cuts, said Sen. Robert Casey (D-Pennsylvania).

“President Trump promised not to touch Medicaid and Medicare, yet Trumpcare would mean cuts in nursing home care for seniors, fewer services for individuals with disabilities and a shaky financial footing for Medicare, which will open the door to the Republican scheme to end the guaranteed benefit of Medicare by turning it into a voucher program,” Casey said. “Instead of keeping what’s working in health care and fixing what’s not, President Trump is going along with far-right Republicans in Washington, D.C., and trying to jam through this scheme. Medicare and Medicaid represent our basic obligation to seniors, individuals with disabilities and working families.”

The findings last week by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that 14 million people would lose health care coverage in the first year alone under the Republicans plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — and 24 million in all by 2026 — applied pressure to moderate Republicans wary of being accused in the 2018 midterm elections of ripping away health insurance, ABC News reported.

If the bill passes, it would also eliminate mental health coverage for individuals on Medicaid, cutting off coverage for nearly 1.3 million Americans with serious mental health issues.

“The Republican health proposal is a devastating prospect for the millions of people suffering from mental health or substance use disorders,” said Damien Warsavage, National Program Partnership Coordinator at Young People in Recovery. “The opioid epidemic is already taking a massive toll in our communities and eliminating critical Medicaid funding will do further harm to a nationwide epidemic.”

After the CBO released its findings, House Republicans such as Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Leonard Lance of New Jersey said they couldn’t back the current House plan because it would leave too many people uninsured and they were worried it would not pass the Senate.

But if Republicans try to make improvements to help moderate members, that could alienate conservatives.

The White House has been courting about 40 conservative House members who are part of the “Freedom Caucus” and have raised objections to the bill’s use of tax credits — which they liken to another government entitlement — and the timing on curtailing the expansion of Medicaid to states, ABC News reported.

Republicans hold a 44-seat margin in the House with five vacancies, meaning that if every Democrat opposes the measure as expected, the GOP could lose 21 votes and still pass the bill.

Now the White House concedes that it’s considering changes to the bill that might reassure conservatives, all in an effort to muscle through the GOP-backed health care plan in the House next week, according to ABC News.

Trump has reportedly signaled that he’s open to negotiation in his first attempt working with Congress.

“The House has put forward a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, based on the principles I outlined in my joint address, but let me tell you we’re going to arbitrate, we’re going to all get together, we’re going to get something done,” Trump said during a rally in Nashville as supporters waved signs that read “Promises Made, Promises Kept.”

The president said he expected to get a health care bill through, adding: “It’s going to get all mixed up and we’re going to come up with something. We always do.”

“The bill that I will ultimately sign — and that will be a bill where everybody is going to get into the room and we’re going to get it done — we’ll get rid of Obamacare and make health care better for you and for your family,” he said.

However, Democrats said they’re concerned about the exorbitant amount of Americans who stand to lose coverage and the millions more who won’t be able to afford health insurance under Trump’s plan.

“The country needs affordable and accessible health care for all Americans, not health care that puts profits before patients,” Richmond said. “The uninsured rate has fallen substantially as a result of the Affordable Care Act; this is especially true for the African-American community. Republicans should be working to expand and enhance the law, not repeal and replace it.”

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Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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