GOP opponents to Senate health-care bill see vote delay as an advantage

A vocal conservative opponent of the measure, Sen. Rand Paul, predicted the delay would strengthen critics’ position by giving them more time to mobilize against the bill.

“The longer the bill is out there, the more conservative Republicans are going to discover it is not repeal,” Paul (R-Ky.) said Sunday in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Paul said he spoke with Trump on Friday and suggested the president support repealing the Affordable Care Act and deciding the details of a replacement plan later if the latest version of the bill does not pass.

.. Trump administration officials failed to gain support from influential Republicans such as Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R). Opposition from Sandoval and others will make it easier for undecided Republican senators from those states to vote “no” on the bill, potentially further endangering its prospects.

.. (63 percent) believes it is more important for the government to provide health coverage to low-income people compared with cutting taxes (27 percent). Among Republicans, 48 percent favored cutting taxes, compared with 39 percent who favored providing health coverage for low-income people.

.. “President Trump and I believe the Senate health-care bill strengthens and secures Medicaid for the neediest in our society,” Pence said

.. Collins strongly disagreed in an interview Sunday with CNN.

“You can’t take more than $700 billion out of the Medicaid program and not think that it’s going to have some kind of effect,” she said during an appearance on “State of the Union.”

.. “This bill imposes fundamental, sweeping changes in the Medicaid program, and those include very deep cuts that would affect some of the most vulnerable people in our society, including disabled children and poor seniors. It would affect our rural hospitals and our nursing homes, and they would have a very hard time even staying in existence.”

.. Pence’s speech was criticized by Democrats, health-care advocates and even some Republicans for mischaracterizing the possible ramifications of the GOP bill.

.. During the same speech, the vice president went after Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), a critic of the legislation, by suggesting his state’s expansion of Medicaid left nearly 60,000 residents with disabilities “stuck on waiting lists, leaving them without the care they need for months or even years.”

The claim alienated many at the meeting, partly because waiting lists for Medicaid’s home- and community-based services were not affected by the program’s expansion under the ACA, and partly because many interpreted Pence’s remark as an overly aggressive shot at Kasich. The Ohio governor’s stance against the bill could shape the position of Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a pivotal vote for Republicans who is undecided on the current version. Some fear Pence missed an opportunity to woo Portman with his remark against Kasich.

.. Collins estimated Sunday that there are eight to 10 Republican senators with “serious concerns”

.. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, worked to undermine that report and a forthcoming analysis by the Congressional Budget Office showing the legislation’s cost and insurance impact.

.. The Avalere study projected marked reductions in federal Medicaid funding to all 50 states, ranging from 27 percent to 39 percent by 2036.

This dirty little secret is the real reason why repeal is so hard for Republicans

The Affordable Care Act has widely been held aloft as one of the leading drivers of the deepening polarization of American political life — it has been bitterly fought over for years and has loomed as a great embodiment of all that ideologically divides the two parties. Yet in a strange twist, the GOP debate over repeal has actually revealed that there is a surprising amount of hidden consensus on health care.

.. nutshell, what the debate has really shown is that the passage and implementation of the ACA has given rise to a latent majority in Congress — or at least one in the Senate — that has more or less made peace with the ACA’s spending and regulatory architecture and its fundamental ideological goals

.. GOP Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas that neatly illustrates the point. Moran is a GOP loyalist who previously headed the GOP Senate campaign arm and sits firmly in the mainstream of today’s GOP. Yet even he is having trouble supporting the GOP bill.

.. He did not describe the task facing Republicans as repeal; it was “repair, replace, whatever language people are using.”

Pressed by activists and voters, Moran said that he did not want to cut back Medicaid. “I have concern about people with disabilities, the frail and elderly,” Moran said. “I also know that if we want health care in rural places and across Kansas, Medicare and Medicaid need to compensate for the services they provide.”

After the town hall meeting, Moran told reporters the version of the GOP’s bill that he opposed put too much of Medicaid at risk.

.. He is suggesting that, while able-bodied adults might allegedly be scamming their way onto the Medicaid expansion, this issue should not be taken to justify the deeper cuts to Medicaid. And this, as Weigel notes, unfolded in one of “the reddest parts of a deep red state.”

.. The bottom line is that Republicans who currently oppose the Senate bill object to it because it would roll back federal spending in a way that would hurt millions and millions of people. This includes Moran and moderates such as Dean Heller of Nevada, Susan Collins of Maine, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Rob Portman of Ohio, all of whom have made variations of this argument. Some, such as Collins and Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, have even objected on the grounds that this would finance a massive tax cut for the wealthy, and that this is indefensible.

.. All of this is dramatically at odds with the ludicrous spin coming from GOP leaders such as John Cornyn of Texas and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, who argue that the millions left uncovered under the GOP bill will be choosing that plight, because they will have been liberated from the hated ACA mandate.

.. To summarize, Republicans are arguing both that

  1.  millions won’t actually be hurt by these Medicaid cuts, either because they aren’t really cuts, or because everyone will have “access” to health care later; and that
  2. if many millions of people go without coverage who would otherwise have been covered, they did so by choice.

it is of course possible to make a principled argument against the mandate, Republicans are doing something else entirely: They are hiding behind their arguments against the mandate to evade acknowledging the true human toll their proposed Medicaid cuts would inflict.

What this really means is that they are basically fine with rolling back the ACA’s massive coverage expansion to facilitate a massive tax cut for the rich, but just won’t say so out loud.

But all indications are that moderate Republican senators — and even senators such as Moran — are not fine with this outcome.

Now, these objecting senators may still end up supporting a revised GOP bill in the end, due to party pressures and other factors. But if they do, they will only justify it by pretending that a few additional last-minute dollars (in relative terms) added to the bill would put a meaningful dent in the enormous coverage loss

.. This would mean their current objections were insincere.



How the Republican Coward Caucus is about to sell out its own constituents — in secret

a repeal bill so monumental in its cruelty that they feel they have no choice but to draft it in secret, not let the public know what it does, hold not a single hearing or committee markup, slip it in a brown paper package to the Congressional Budget Office, then push it through to a vote before the July 4th recess before the inevitable backlash gets too loud.

“We aren’t stupid,” one GOP Senate aide told Caitlin Owens — they know what would happen if they made their bill public.

.. Today, we learned that in a break with longstanding precedent, “Senate officials are cracking down on media access, informing reporters on Tuesday that they will no longer be allowed to film or record audio of interviews in the Senate side hallways of the Capitol without special permission.” Everyone assumes that it’s so those senators can avoid having to appear on camera being asked uncomfortable questions about a bill that is as likely to be as popular as Ebola.

.. This is how a party acts when it is ashamed of what it is about to do to the American people. Yet all it would take to stop this abomination is for three Republicans to stand up to their party’s leaders and say, “No — I won’t do this to my constituents.” With only a 52-48 majority in the Senate, that would kill the bill. But right now, it’s looking as though this Coward Caucus is going to be unable to muster the necessary courage.

 .. Take Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, a state where over 175,000 people have gotten insurance thanks to the Medicaid expansion.
.. Last week The Hill reported that Capito now supports eliminating the expansion after all — just doing it over seven years instead of the three years that the House bill required.
..Or how about Ohio’s Rob Portman? In his state, 700,000 people gained insurance as a result of the Medicaid expansion.
.. They’d pay for the slower elimination of the expansion by cutting money out of the existing program, so they could get rid of all of the ACA’s tax increases
.. — over half of Medicaid dollars go to the elderly and disabled.
.. That means that they aren’t just undoing the ACA; they’re making things substantially worse for tens of millions of America’s most vulnerable citizens than they were even before the ACA passed.
.. And they’re hoping they can do all this before anyone realizes what they’re up to, making this an act of both unconscionable heartlessness and epic cowardice. Their efforts to hide what they’re doing show that they are still capable of feeling some measure of shame. But it might not be enough to stop them.

The Dark Strategy at the Core of the GOP Health Care Plan

How the House Republican plan to overhaul Obamacare went from repeal-and-replace to cap-and-strangle

The driving principle of Tryancare is to dangerously erode federal support for health insurance over time – both for individual policies bought in the marketplace and for Medicaid recipients.

.. It trades in Obamacare’s guaranteed payouts for a new program of federal spending that looks vaguely adequate in year one. But Tryancare then caps future payouts – at a growth rate far below health care inflation.

.. Tryancare would mail out a monthly refundable tax credit – essentially, a check from Uncle Sam – for Americans to buy their own health plans.

.. Because these are flat tax credits, Tryancare shifts money out of the pockets of the poor and gives it to the upper middle class. A 60-year-old with an income of $20,000 would lose more than half the premium support now paid for by Obamacare (average: $9,874), while a 60-year-old making $75,000, who today does not qualify for subsidies under Obamacare, would get $4,000 under Tryancare.

.. Obamacare provided funds to expand Medicaid from a program generally limited to women and children in poverty to create, instead, universal coverage for the poor and working poor.

.. states would have to pony up an additional $253 billion over the next decade to preserve the benefits of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.

.. the Tryancare contribution is capped. It grows only at the rate of the increase in the Consumer Price Index (a measure of inflation) plus one percent.

.. Subsidies climbed from an average of $291 a month in 2016 to $367 in 2017, a boost of $76 a month.

.. Four GOP senators, led by Rob Portman of Ohio, have warned that Tryancare’s changes to Medicaid risk making it a non-starter.

House GOP Releases Plan to Repeal, Replace Obamacare

Proposed legislation would dismantle much of Affordable Care Act, create refundable tax credit tied to age and income

Earlier versions included provisions opposed by both conservative and centrist Republicans, whose support for the now-altered bill will be crucial.House Republican leaders hope the package will be passed by Congress by mid-April.

.. Under the House GOP proposal released Monday, the refundable tax credits would be tied to age, with people under 30 eligible for a credit of $2,000 per year, increasing steadily to $4,000 for those over 60. The size of a tax credit would grow with the size of a family, but would be capped at $14,000.

.. The GOP plan aims to appease their concerns by leaving the expansion untouched through the end of 2019. After that, funding would begin to be reduced in an attempt to make up for the revenue lost by repealing the taxes contained in the existing health law.

.. Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia sent a letter Monday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) expressing concerns over the House’s approach to overhauling the Medicaid program in an earlier draft of the bill.

.. The proposal would also end a special executive compensation limit that the 2010 law applied to health insurers. That law prevented companies from deducting more than $500,000 in pay to executives. Other companies face a $1 million limit, but that cap doesn’t apply to performance-based compensation.

Seven Reasons It Made Sense for Donald Trump to pick Mike Pence

The running mate’s role is to support and amplify the boss’s message, not to usurp it. As Gingrich demonstrated on Thursday night, with his call for American Muslims to be subjected to a Sharia-law test, he’s not one of nature’s number twos.

.. Many of the potential problems with picking Gingrich also apply to the New Jersey governor, who is loud and domineering, and has an equally dismal approval rating: thirty-four per cent

.. Trump’s only realistic, or semi-realistic, chance of getting to two hundred and seventy electoral votes is to storm through the Midwest and the Rust Belt, racking up huge majorities of white votes. To this end, his ideal choice would have been John Kasich, the popular governor of Ohio, but Kasich didn’t want the job. Nor did Rob Portman, the Ohio senator who served in the Bush Administration, or Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin. And no one in Michigan or Pennsylvania was particularly suitable, either. That left Pence

.. In May, after wrapping up the nomination, he said, “This is called the Republican Party, not the Conservative Party.” But, like John McCain and Mitt Romney before him, Trump ultimately had to come to terms with the nature of the beast he is trying to ride to the White House.

.. Selecting Pence, a former head of the Republican Study Group on Capitol Hill, sends a signal that Trump is willing to work with the Party establishment and listen to what it says.

.. Ryan released a statement saying that there could be “no better choice for our vice-presidential candidate.”

.. Most people who take civil rights and the Constitution seriously are already aghast at the prospect of a Trump Presidency. Is there anyone out there who was willing to look past Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims, a resumption of torture, and the deportation of eleven million undocumented workers, but who will not vote for the Republican ticket because of Pence’s support for an Indiana law that allowed businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians? Perhaps such people exist, but I doubt there are very many.