Monday, July 17, 2017

Trumpcare Dirty Dealings

Only two senators—Susan Collins (R-ME) and Rand Paul (R-KY)—came out as firm no’s on the procedural motion to proceed to debate on the [health care] bill. If just one more joins them, the effort is dead.


Just one week ago, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) came out swinging against the Senate bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act—saying its deep cuts to Medicaid would devastate her low-income constituents, emphasizing that more funding for opioid addiction alone would not be enough to win her over, and vowing to stick her neck out to be the vote that kills the bill if necessary.


A few days later, a revised bill hit her desk. It included an extra $45 billion dedicated to treating the opioid epidemic that has wracked her state and many others, but the hundreds of billions in Medicaid cuts that so concerned her remained unchanged.

Yet Capito, and a handful of other moderate Republican lawmakers who quite recently cited the Medicaid cuts as a deal-breaker, were oddly tight-lipped last week after the updated bill’s release, and went out of their way to avoid speaking to reporters.


Dean Heller (R-NV) [...] just a few weeks ago blasted the legislation and demanded it be amended to either keep Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion intact or increase traditional Medicaid spending.

The new bill does neither—and Heller admitted Thursday that “Fundamentally, they haven’t changed” the legislation—yet he did not come out against it.


Then there are the senators across the Republican caucus who have vowed to protect pre-existing conditions, who may yet vote for a bill that the insurance industry and outside health care experts have warned would price people with pre-existing conditions out of the market entirely.

With a vote delayed as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) recovers from surgery, leaving Republicans a vote short, McConnell has a few more days to employ a similar strategy to the one that successfully muscled the bill through the House: please most the hardline conservative and hope the moderates cave.


And then there’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who reportedly went off in a closed-door meeting with GOP leadership about the bill’s cuts to Medicaid and pleaded with them to leave the program alone, but would not say publicly how she plans to vote on the bill itself. Murkowksi has previously said she can’t vote for a bill that repeals Alaska’s Medicaid expansion, and can’t vote for a bill that defunds Planned Parenthood. The Senate’s health care bill does both.

Murkowski, however, will be shielded from some of the worst impacts of the Medicaid cuts by a carveout tucked into the bill specifically for her state. Dubbed the “Polar Payout” or “Klondike Kickback,” the provision would give Alaska hundreds of millions of dollars to help lower insurance premiums.

And if you Alaskans think that's okay, then fuck you, too.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

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