Trump speedbump to Senate repeal of ‘Obamacare’

Last month President Trump hosted a kegger party in the White House Rose Garden to cheer the passage of the American Health Care Act with House members.

Trump said “What we have is something that is very, very, incredibly well-crafted.”

The president also promised to get it through the Senate.

“It’s going to be an unbelievable victory when we get it through the Senate, and there’s so much spirit there,” Trump said.

That was then, this is now. Yesterday, Trump calls House health bill that he celebrated in the Rose Garden ‘mean’:

President Trump told Republican senators Tuesday that the House GOP health-care bill was “mean” and he expects the Senate to “improve” the legislation considerably, according to several Republicans familiar with the gathering.

The meeting came as Senate Republicans were struggling to build support for their health-care rewrite among conservatives who are concerned that the legislation is drifting too far to the left.

Trump’s labeling of the House bill as “mean” was a significant shift of tone that followed months of private and public negotiations, during which he called the bill “great” and urged GOP lawmakers to vote for it. Following the House vote, Trump hosted an event in the Rose Garden to celebrate its passage.

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), who attended the lunch, said Trump talked about “making sure that we have a bill that protects people with preexisting conditions” and how to design a tax credit for purchasing insurance that works for lower-income and elderly people in particular.

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Following the meeting, several top Republicans sought to temper expectations that leaders could produce a final health care draft by the end of the week, as had previously been expected. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) told reporters that Trump was positive and the talks were productive, but he laughed when asked if he expected a bill would be complete by Friday.

“I don’t think so,” Hatch said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also declined to say whether the Senate would hold a vote on the bill before the July 4 recess, as some in Senate leadership have aspired to do.

Why bother? The AHCA is political suicide. G.O.P. Senators Might Not Realize It, but Not One State Supports the A.H.C.A.;

It’s no secret that the American Health Care Act is unpopular. In recent national polls, only about 29 percent of Americans support the bill. It is the most unpopular piece of major legislation Congress has considered in decades — even more unloved than TARP (“the bailout”), and much more unpopular than the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Will Republican senators vote yes on a bill this unpopular?

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To get a sense of support by state, we combined recent polls to estimate support for the A.H.C.A. in every senator’s home state. Our estimates indicate that not one state favors it.

Even though very few state polls have been conducted on views of the A.H.C.A., we are able to estimate views on the bill in each state using a statistical method called M.R.P. (multilevel regression and postratification) and eight national polls that the Kaiser Family Foundation, YouGov and Public Policy Polling shared with us on people’s views on the A.H.C.A.

While no polling system is infallible, our M.R.P. model combines respondents’ demographic characteristics, their state and their views of the A.H.C.A. to estimate the probability that a voter of a certain age, race and gender, and in a state with certain characteristics, would support the proposal. It then estimates support for the bill within every state based on each state’s demographics. Models like this have been used to accurately predict public opinion in states on other topics, and in last week’s electionin Britain.

We found that Republicans have produced a rare unity among red and blue states: opposition to the A.H.C.A.

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For example, even in the most supportive state, deep-red Oklahoma, we estimate that only about 38 percent of voters appear to support the law versus 45 percent who oppose. (Another 17 percent of Oklahomans say they have no opinion.) Across all the states that voted for President Trump last year, we estimate that support for the A.H.C.A. is rarely over 35 percent. A majority of Republican senators currently represent states where less than a third of the public supports the A.H.C.A. By comparison, President Trump received 33 percent of the vote in Massachusetts.

How many senators might lose their seats as a result of supporting the bill? A recent study found that Democrats who supported Obamacare lost about six percentage points in the vote in 2010 — a dangerous omen for the 15 sitting Republican senators who won their most recent elections by less than that number. For example, if the A.H.C.A. costs Republicans as much support as Obamacare cost Democrats, senators like Jeff Flake of Arizona and Dean Heller of Nevada might be in danger of losing their seats. We estimate that only 28 percent of the public in Nevada supports the A.H.C.A., while only 31 percent of Arizonans support it.

With this said, it’s hard to know just how politically damaging supporting the A.H.C.A. would be. On the one hand, no major bill this unpopular has passed in decades, but some voters might forget about the A.H.C.A., or change their opinions, by the time some senators face re-election. [That GOP tribalism thing.]

Maybe these zombie Tea-Publican voters who vote out of GOP tribalism will change their minds when they learn How the Republican Coward Caucus is about to sell out its own constituents — in secret:

The fate of the American health-care system now rests with a group of allegedly “moderate” senators, who are getting ready to approve a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, 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. Even Republican senators who aren’t part of the 13-member working group crafting the bill haven’t been told exactly what’s in it.

Today, we learned that in a break with long-standing 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. As Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News tweeted about the secrecy with which this bill is being advanced, “I have covered every major health bill in Congress since 1986. Have NEVER seen anything like this.”

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.

To understand the magnitude of what they’re doing, let’s focus on Medicaid, because it was supposed to be a sticking point on which some senators wouldn’t budge, particularly those whose states accepted the ACA’s expansion of the program. But according to various reports, the moderates have already caved.

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It’s important to know that the Medicaid question isn’t just about the millions who would lose coverage if the expansion is eliminated. Paige Winfield Cunningham reports today that Senate Republicans are considering even deeper cuts to Medicaid than the $880 billion the House bill slashed out of the program. 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 — which mostly affected the wealthy. In other words, they want to cut Medicaid to give a tax break to rich people.

Just as critical, they want to end Medicaid’s status as an entitlement, meaning that the program wouldn’t cover everyone who’s eligible. States would get a chunk of money to spend, and if more people turned out to need coverage, tough luck for them. The states would be offered “flexibility,” which in practice would mean permission to kick people off the program and cut back on benefits. And don’t think this is just about poor people — 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.

Evil GOP Bastards! Call your senators today to oppose this bill.

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