Thursday, March 23, 2017

Trumpcare Triumphant?

Republican leadership and Trump say that they have the votes to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA), a.k.a., Trumpcare, the oft-promised repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a.k.a., Obamacare. The House vote is today. But no one knows for sure if it will pass.

The House Freedom Caucus is driving the vote. Backed by a formidable array of uber-conservative organizations -- Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, Heritage Action for America and the Club for Growth -- the Freedom Caucus rallying cry is one of sadism: "Essential Health Benefits," the part of Obamacare that "requires insurers to cover a base set of benefits, like maternity care, preventive services, wellness checkups and rehabilitative services," currently part of Trumpcare, must be stripped out (see "House Republicans Search for Votes to Repeal Obamacare" by Thomas Kaplan and Robert Pear) in order to lower premiums.

The problem for Trump and Ryan is that the more they move in the direction of the Freedom Caucus the more Trumpcare becomes radioactive for other Republicans. Even without the repeal of the Essential Health Benefits requirement, Trumpcare's chances of passing the Senate are remote.

The House vote is basically a charade that is conjuring up memories of the 2003 Medicare prescription drug benefit vote when clocks froze for hours as Billy Tauzin bribed his way to 216 votes.

I think we are in that territory today. It is accepted that if Trump can't get Trumpcare out of the House, the rest of his legislative agenda, what of it that there is (more tax cuts?), is cooked. That's why I expect that the American Health Care Act, in some monstrous form, will find its way to the Senate.

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