The GOP Really Hates The American Health Care Act
The Republican party finally managed to present their own alternative to Obamacare, with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan releasing the brand new American Health Care Act (AHCA). Democrats, unsurprisingly, hate it – after all it will gut Medicaid expansion, it will increase overall costs by taking away income-based subsidies and replacing them with smaller tax credits based primarily on age, and it eliminates the employer and individual mandate to require insurance, decreasing the likely number of healthy insurees which will make everyone’s payments rise.
More surprising is how many of the Republican party members hate it. A lot.
“This is Obamacare by a different form,” former Freedom Caucus chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio told Politico. “They’re still keeping the taxes in place and Medicaid expansion, and they’re starting a new entitlement.” Jordan, like many of the Tea Party GOP acolytes, were fuming over what Kentucky Senator Rand Paul earlier dubbed “Obamacare-lite” because of its continuation of subsidies and encouragement that people buy health insurance, even if the actual mandate is gone.
In fact, Jordan was so unhappy with the bill that he declared he would introduce his own repeal bill instead. “We think you have to get rid of Obamacare completely, so tomorrow I will introduce the bill that every single Republican voted on just 15 months ago, the bill that actually repeals Obamacare,” Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio said,” Business Insider reports. “Jordan said he would introduce a bill similar to the bill that was passed by Congress in 2015 to repeal the ACA. That bill was vetoed by former President Obama.”
Conservative pundits are just as upset with the AHCA.
“Just as Lite foods failed to keep Americans from getting fatter, the GOP version of health-care reform doesn’t fix the huge problems that currently exist in the individual market, notably the fact that thanks to Obamacare, in a few years, we might not even have an individual market. (See “community rating” and “guaranteed issue,” and thus the hated mandate, which whacks you with a tax penalty if you don’t buy insurance.),” writes Megan McArdle at Bloomberg View. “The incentives intended to keep the individual market sustainable were already failing, and the Republican plan weakens them still further. Even the 30 percent premium penalty lasts only 12 months. Not only is this an obviously insufficient penalty; it actually disincentivizes healthy people who have let their coverage lapse from getting back into the market, even as it makes it relatively cheap to do so if you are sick. If Republicans manage to pass this, they will richly deserve it when voters blame them for the resulting havoc it will wreak in the individual market.”
Meanwhile, Tea Party advocacy groups are holding their own members’ feet to the fire, pushing them to reject this bill and hold out for something less….Obamacare-y. “‘They all ran as conservative Republicans and said “we’re going to get rid of Obamacare,” they need to do it. And then instead of building Ryancare, that’s Obamacare lite, they need to build a Republican principled-bill and then they should all vote for it,’ Club for Growth President David McIntosh told USA TODAY,” reports the paper. “He added if they weren’t able to change the bill, his group would put significant resources behind making sure that voters knew which lawmakers weren’t backing a conservative plan.”
In fact, there really only seems to be one person happy with Ryan’s replacement plan (besides the Speaker himself), and that is President Donald Trump. “House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said Trump told the group he was ‘all-in,’” the L.A. Times reports. ”Deputy Whip Patrick T. McHenry (R-N.C.) said Trump asked them to make sure all House Republicans knew he supported the plan ‘in detail’ and in the form it was filed. Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) described Trump as ’110% committed to helping us get this bill into law.’ ‘The president made it very clear: this is his bill, and there are no excuses,’ said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), a top architect of the law.”
The Speaker of the House claims he easily has the votes needed to get the bill through the House. It will then reach the Senate where, as a reconciliation bill, it needs only 51 votes to pass. Whether it crosses either hurdle is still anyone’s guess.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, via wikimedia commons