Perspectives on Geopolitics, History, and Political Economy

Republican Trainwreck: Millions at Risk as Trump Demands Healthcare Vote

Originally published on Common Dreams.

US President Donald J. Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan walk down the steps of the US Capitol after attending the Friends of Ireland Luncheon at the US Capitol in Washington, DC USA 16 March, 2017. EPA/OLIVIER DOULIERY / POOL

By Lauren McCauley

In their frenzied effort to strong-arm support for the flailing American Health Care Act (AHCA) before a vote on Friday, President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have officially made the Republican plan even worse.

Trump issued a stark ultimatum to wavering House Republicans late Thursday, dispatching budget director Mick Mulvaney to tell lawmakers that if they don’t get behind the AHCA, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, will remain the “law of the land.”

The Hill reported:

At a dramatic closed-door House GOP conference meeting, Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, delivered the message to rank-and-file Republicans: After weeks of talks, Trump is done negotiating the bill and wants a vote on Friday, according to a source in the room.

The House had been set to vote Thursday on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), but the vote was delayed after Trump and leadership couldn’t corral the necessary 215 GOP votes.

If the vote fails Friday, Mulvaney warned, Trump will move on to other priorities like tax reform, and ObamaCare will stay as the law of the land.

But with only 17 percent public support and a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis (pdf) finding that recently unveiled cuts would be even worse economically while still threatening coverage for 24 million people by 2026, Republicans across the political spectrum are threatening to jump ship.

Watch the House vote and debate below:

According to the CBO, the legislation would now reduce the deficit by $150 billion over 10 years, significantly less than $337 billion reduction than the previous draft. At the same time, premiums would still rise initially by 15 to 20 percent above those under Obamacare before eventually falling 10 percent by 2026.

In a last-minute gift to the ultraconservative House Freedom caucus, Ryan and Trump stripped (pdf) the AHCA of the “essential health benefits” central to Obamacare, which mandates that insurance plans include coverage for basic care, such as maternity and wellness visits.

That change, not included in the latest CBO analysis, could cause the individual insurance market to “collapse” in 2018 according to ACA expert Nicholas Bagley, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, who described the amendment as “irresponsible, ambiguous, and destructive.”

Ignoring recent polling that found that the majority of Americans support women’s reproductive rights and Planned Parenthood, Trump on Friday attempted to woo the most conservative factions, tweeting:

Meanwhile, grassroots opponents of the bill continue to swarm moderate Republicans with office visits, phone calls, and protests demanding they vote against the AHCA.

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