Archive for Tuesday, March 14, 2017

GOP leaders scramble to shore up support for health bill

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with his Cabinet in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, March 13, 2017. Clockwise, from lower left are, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the president, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with his Cabinet in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, March 13, 2017. Clockwise, from lower left are, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the president, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

March 14, 2017

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— The White House and Republican leaders in Congress scrambled on Tuesday to shore up support for their health care bill as critics went on the attack over new estimates that 14 million people would lose insurance coverage in the first year alone.

The findings from the Congressional Budget Office handed fresh ammunition to Democratic opponents of the GOP drive to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama's health care law. The new figures, which estimated that 24 million people would lose insurance over a decade, also appeared to strengthen pockets of conservative resistance to the bill and rattle nerves among rank-and-file Republicans.

With Washington blanketed in a rare March snow, congressional GOP leaders and top aides to President Donald Trump got to work trying to salvage the legislation, which they hope to push through the House next week and the Senate the week after that. Trump has promised to sign the bill, fulfilling seven years of GOP promises to undo "Obamacare," even though the legislation breaks the president's own past promises to safeguard Medicaid and provide health insurance for all.

"We think we've created a system that saves money and allows more people to get affordable health care," Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, said Tuesday morning on MSNBC. Mulvaney disputed the CBO findings about how many people would lose coverage, while highlighting the agency's conclusions that the GOP bill would reduce the deficit by $337 billion over a decade and lower insurance premiums by around 10 percent starting in 2020. The premiums reduction would come only after they sharply rose in 2018 and 2019.

The GOP legislation would use tax credits to help consumers buy health coverage, expand health savings accounts, phase out an expansion of Medicaid and cap that program for the future, end some requirements for health plans under Obama's law, and scrap a number of taxes.

Republicans say they are not trying to achieve the widespread coverage that Democrats aimed for by including penalties in the Affordable Care Act for people who weren't covered. Instead Republicans would eliminate that mandate, and their buzzword is "access" to affordable coverage for people who want it.

"You sit there and talk about coverage, but coverage is not the end. People don't get better with coverage," Mulvaney said.

Angry Democrats, united against the GOP bill, scoffed at such claims.

"Trumpcare would be a nightmare for the American people," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said at a news conference at the Capitol with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.

Criticism also is coming from conservatives who threaten to foil GOP leaders' plans of swift passage of the legislation before Easter, when Congress is scheduled to go on a two-week recess that could expose lawmakers to town hall fury.

Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, a member of the Freedom Caucus and one of the most outspoken critics of the bill, reiterated Tuesday that he and other conservatives have been working with the White House on changes to the Republican health plan. They have dubbed the bill "Obamacare Lite," saying it doesn't fully repeal the Affordable Care Act and installs a new but similar system of tax credits that they deride as a new entitlement.

"This bill doesn't unite Republicans. This bill doesn't bring down the cost of premiums," Jordan told Fox News' "Fox and Friends." ''I don't think it's going to accomplish what we told the voters we were going to do."

House Speaker Paul Ryan has confidently predicted the bill will have the support needed to pass on the House floor next week, but Mulvaney seemed to suggest more work is needed to get to the 216 votes that will be required. He said negotiations are still going on as conservative lawmakers push changes to the bill.

"I don't think we're in a position to start counting votes until we know what that bill looks like," Mulvaney said.

The CBO is widely respected but doesn't have a perfect track record, including estimating that Obamacare would cover more people than it has. The office's estimates are relied upon by politicians from all sides, though often attacked when unfavorable.

Senators are just beginning to absorb the CBO findings and were to meet at the Capitol Tuesday with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

"It's awful. It has to be a concern," Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said of the budget office findings. "President Trump said he wanted as many people covered as under Obamacare."

"At the end of the day, we should pause and try to improve the product in light of the CBO analysis rather than just rejecting it," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

All along Republican leaders have assumed that once it comes time to vote, few if any Republicans will dare vote "no" on the repeal and replacement of "Obamacare" that their party has been promising for seven years. They are relying on Trump's popularity with conservative voters to close the deal, and Trump on Monday announced he would be traveling to Kentucky for a rally early next week.

Comments

Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 month, 1 week ago

"Let em discover the monumental fraud that they have foisted off on the country with this "Trump Care". And with the fraudulently "elected" non-president himself.

There are elections coming up next year and the fraudulent Electoral College will not elect any of the many contested races that will be determined by LEGITIMATE AND FAIR ELECTIONS!

(Aren't those "caps locks" great???)

This is a great chance to clear the decks of the hidebound Republicans and get some truly representative and competent Liberal Democrats in the congress to oppose the fascist "conservative alt-right" members of Congress that are currently trying doing their dead level best to pull the rug out from under Affordable Care Act beneficiaries.

While protesting in their very best "alternative facts" bleating and moaning?

Richard Heckler 1 month, 1 week ago

Repeal Mandate – Stop There

I am fine with repealing the "mandate to purchase" or at least altering it to a choice without penalty.

There are some who would rather finance their own health care straight out of their pockets which would reduce the expense considerably for them as would Medicare Single Payer Insurance for all others. HR676/S703 Healthcare Reform Report Card https://www.healthcare-now.org/docs/spreport.pdf

I say repeal the mandate STAT.

Then provide 3 choices: Put this to a vote an let patriotic citizens decide!

=== ObamaCare which retains the health insurance industry for those who fear the word Medicare.

=== Single Payer Medicare for ALL = excellent coverage HR676/S703 Healthcare Reform Report Card https://www.healthcare-now.org/docs/spreport.pdf

=== Self financed health care allows the fiscally fit to opt out.

Can conservatives get on with this without screwing up healthcare? without a bunch of BS? and without throwing republicans and democrats under the bus.

Apparently not.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/activist-muscle-gives-obamacare-a-lift/2017/02/25/d97efaca-facc-11e6-9845-576c69081518_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_acarallies-824pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.71000014c07e

Carol Bowen 1 month, 1 week ago

What about the 80% product and 20% overhead for insurance premiums, part of the ACA? If that has been removed, insurance costs have no constraints other than competition.

Harlan Hobbs 1 month, 1 week ago

This entire issue exposes the vast insidiousness and propaganda of liberalism. The only people that ObamaCare has helped are those who don't have to pay the skyrocketing premiums and/or the outlandish deductibles -- in other words, the poor and the helpless.

Our forefathers guaranteed us "certain inalienable rights, ... Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." I hate to break this to you, but nobody is "entitled" to health insurance. If you want to say that access to health care is an entitlement, ok, but that is a totally different subject.

Everyone has access to health care in this country, and they did even before ObamaCare came on the scene.

There are just as many people forgoing health insurance as there were before ObamaCare due to the unaffordable premiums and deductibles. They are the truly forgotten people. Furthermore, a large percentage of those who the CBO (an essentially worthless group, if you use their projections for ObamaCare as an example) projects would go without health insurance under the Republican plan will do so by choice when they are no longer mandated to buy it.

One simple question for liberals. Why is it that when you use the word "choice", you are almost always only talking about abortion or drug use. Why no choice when it comes to things like where you send your kids to school, and if you can't afford it, why aren't you entitled to a subsidy like the people on ObamaCare? That is just one example, but space doesn't give me the luxury of listing more.

Finally, I have come to the conclusion that most liberals are essentially irredeemable (not deplorables as Queen Hillary would say) and incapable of facing facts when presented to them. Therefore, debate is fruitless, and this will be my parting shot to all of you. Actually, you probably are just as thrilled as I am about that. From now on, I will only read to LJW for articles on the sports page. Hasta la vista, baby!

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