Editorials

House health bill ‘compromise’ would compromise health care

Sheila Jackson Lee Called 'Hysterical' by Republican Congressman on the House Floor

Sheila Jackson Lee, the Democratic congresswoman from Texas took to the floor of the House this morning to deliver powerful opposition of the proposed ACA repeal bill. Georgia Republican congressman Doug Collins replied by saying "If I had to defe
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Sheila Jackson Lee, the Democratic congresswoman from Texas took to the floor of the House this morning to deliver powerful opposition of the proposed ACA repeal bill. Georgia Republican congressman Doug Collins replied by saying "If I had to defe

Those who were breathing easier after the failure of Republicans to come up with a replacement for the Affordable Care Act are worrying again, and rightly so. House Speaker Paul Ryan — no fan of entitlement programs and one who has flirted with the privatization of Medicare and Social Security — agreed to an amendment to a GOP health care plan that would weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions, cut Medicaid rolls and give a tax cut to the rich. Although money would be allotted to “help” such people pay for high-priced care, it wouldn’t last long, and shamefully, Republicans know it.

This “compromise” — approved on a 217-213 vote Thursday — is little more than a deal that gives in to the GOP’s hard right flank, which would prefer to gut all aspects of the ACA in order to eliminate President Obama’s signature accomplishment. This is a shameful act that will hurt millions of Americans.

Even many Republicans and President Trump, though they didn’t admit it publicly, seemed relieved that a GOP replacement plan fell flat. The ACA is a complex program that has made it possible for 22 million Americans to have health insurance. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the GOP plan would mean 24 million people would lose insurance over several years.

And though Trump sounded off about “Obamacare” in virtually every campaign speech he made, reckoning it to be a “disaster,” it wasn’t a disaster, and the alternative that he and Republicans came up with had too many gaps.

But now tea party Republicans have apparently won the fight, at least in the House. The only hope Americans have is that enough Republican senators will walk away from the proposal. The GOP would allow insurance companies to bail out of the requirement to cover those with pre-existing conditions in favor of “high risk” pools to cover those with illnesses who couldn’t get conventional insurance under the old profit-driven health care system. The high risk pools would likely be tremendously expensive and leave many people uncovered.

Why Speaker Ryan can’t understand that it’s too late to simply do away with Obamacare, and why he didn’t learn a lesson from the failed attempt to replace it is mysterious. His predecessor, John Boehner, learned as Speaker that the tea party element, now calling itself the “Freedom Caucus” (led by North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows) does not believe in compromise, and Boehner angered some of the most conservative Republicans by maneuvering around them on occasion.

Trump flatly promised those with pre-existing conditions would be protected. This proposal doesn’t do that. But Trump so craves to have an “accomplishment” in his first three months that it’s doubtful he’ll be bothered by being caught in another lie. The tea party House members ignore the ACA’s popularity, But their day of reckoning will come, in the 2018 elections. GOP senators may be more savvy about that than their House colleagues. The American people must hope so.

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