I’ll take each part of that in turn.
Worst of the GOP anti-health bills about to fail - we hope!
First, it does look like the Graham-Cassidy bill is in its death throes.
Arizona Sen. John McCain came out against it promising another, unwavering “no” vote. McCain Announces Opposition to Republican Health Bill, Likely Dooming It.
Then Maine Sen. Susan Collins promised in equally strong terms a negative vote: Health Bill Appears Dead as Pivotal G.O.P. Senator Declares Opposition.
Two other Senators - Rand Paul and Ted Cruz - are tentative “no” votes. However, both have wheedled concessions in the past and then voted for previous versions of the repeal/replace bill.
That leaves Alaska Lisa Murkowski who now is under increasing pressure to vote in favor. Politicususa.com reports that Desperate Republicans Sweeten Their Bribe To Get Lisa Murkowski’s Vote To Kill Obamacare. Senate Republicans have rewritten their unpopular Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill to increase their bribe to Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
NBC News reported, “An updated version of the Graham-Cassidy health care bill circulating among lobbyists and on Capitol Hill on Sunday night has changed to provide more benefits to Alaska, a move to appeal to Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who has been highly skeptical of efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The new version would grandfather Native Alaskans into Medicaid so they wouldn’t lose coverage after the expanded Medicaid program is rolled back in 2020, according to a section-by-section summary of the new legislation obtained by an industry lobbyist (PDF).”
Republicans are trying to get Murkowski to vote to kill Obamacare by offering her state more Obamacare. If Obamacare is so bad, and such a destructive force to the healthcare system, why are Senate Republicans trying to pass their bill by offering on the fence senators the ability to keep Obamacare?
The answer is obvious. Obamacare isn’t bad. The ACA is so worth keeping that Republicans are offering more of it as a prize to Sen. Murkowski. Until all the votes are cast, and this bill is defeated, opponents of this legislation can’t let up. Senate Republicans are going to keep wheeling and dealing to get this abomination passed.
This is a test of character for Lisa Murkowski. It will be interesting to see if she caves to GOP pressure.
Trump’s sabotage: The President’s attack on health care
It gets worse. President Trump, on January 20th, said this: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The Constitution begins by saying “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Trump cannot be simultaneously faithful to his oath and be undermining our national health care. He has violated his oath by now overtly sabotaging the ACA as Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) reports: Trump administration abandons subtlety in ACA sabotage campaign.
To the great annoyance of its detractors, the Affordable Care Act is doing pretty well, but that doesn’t mean the system is immune to sabotage. The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend:
The Trump administration plans to shut down healthcare.gov, a website consumers use to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, for 12 hours on nearly every Sunday of the coming ACA enrollment season.
The outages, which the administration says are for maintenance, will occur from midnight through noon on every Sunday other than Dec. 10.
Just so we’re clear, the Republican administration has already shrunk the open-enrollment period, cutting it in half. On top of that, consumers will now have even less access to the federal exchange marketplace on Sundays, with Trump’s HHS shutting down the website for 12-hour increments.
Frank Baitman, a former chief information officer for HHS, made the case on Friday that there’s no credible technological reason for this kind of decision. He added that the move reflects a “lack of will and respect” for the American people.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) was even more direct on this point, arguing, “This is not normal maintenance. This is sabotage. Cold blooded. Clear. Out in the open.”
Of course, if this were an isolated incident, it might be easier to give Team Trump the benefit of the doubt, but therein lies the point: this administration has abandoned all subtlety in its ACA sabotage campaign.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently published a list tracking each of the actions Trump World has taken to “sabotage the ACA by destabilizing private insurance markets or reversing the law’s historic gains in health coverage.” It’s not a short list.
On the contrary, it includes everything from scrapping ad campaigns to eliminating navigators, narrowing the enrollment window to threatening to cut off CSR payments. The evidence suggests the executive branch, responsible for helping administer the nation’s health care system, isn’t especially interested in making the system work as it should.
Here is the link to that list. Sabotage Watch: Tracking Efforts to Undermine the ACA.
President Trump has said that, politically, the best thing to do would be to let the Affordable Care Act (ACA) “explode.” This timeline tracks Administration actions that would sabotage the ACA by destabilizing private insurance markets or reversing the law’s historic gains in health coverage.
Benen concludes by asking a pointed question.
Taken together, there’s every reason to believe the Trump administration is doing all of this deliberately in order to make the health care system worse so that the president and his allies can run around saying, “See? Obamacare doesn’t work.” Instead of focusing on helping people, the emphasis is on creating partisan talking points.
If the Affordable Care Act were as dreadful as the right claims, shouldn’t the sabotage campaign be unnecessary?
In the end, the most important thing in this for the GOP and Trump is that they promised their base that they would get rid of the black man’s signature accomplishment - “Obamacare.” If they cannot do it via the Senate, Trump will do it by administrative sabotage. Either way, the American people lose.