Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Senate health bill: The CBO exposes its cruelty, the public hates it, but senators are at risk if they vote against it

The Congressional Budget Office released its (scathing, I think) report on the Senate’s version of the House AHCS bill rebranded as “Better Care.” Here are two items from the FiveThirtyEight’s Significant Digits email this morning along with followup reporting.

$772 billion
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of the GOP’s Senate health care bill on Monday. The Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 would cut $772 billion from Medicaid over the next decade, and 15 million fewer people would be on the program’s rolls. Overall, 28 million Americans are projected to be without insurance in 2026 under current law; the CBO says it would be 49 million people under the Senate bill. [FiveThirtyEight]

The Daily Star has two articles with decidedly negative views of the House’s AHCA and the Senate’s “Better Care” bills. One is from former representative Henry A. Waxman: GOP Senate plan would end health care for the poor. The other reports on a Tucson forum, TMC’s forum on federal heath reform draws big crowd, mostly of opponents. “Here are five takeaways from the event:”

  1. The sentiment at the forum was against both the Senate and House bills.
  2. The opposition was not solely partisan.
  3. The Senate bill is not too different from the House bill.
  4. Arizona’s economy could be affected.
  5. Some audience members had moral concerns.

On this last point:

TMC’s Rich took written questions from the audience. When one asked about the possibility of a single-payer, universal system in the U.S., the audience cheered.

Audience member and retired pastor David Wilkinson said that from his faith-based perspective, the Senate and House bills are immoral because they don’t take care of the poor. He said health care should be a right for all Americans, regardless of their income.

“The most vital thing I learned tonight is that we’re in crisis,” Wilkinson said. “There’s very little hope for the poor if either of these bills passes.”

93 percent
GOP Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada could be the deciding vote on the Senate bill to roll back the Affordable Care Act. He’s voted in line with President Trump’s stated position on legislation 93 percent of the time thus far. [FiveThirtyEight]

Yes, according to the FiveThirtyEight tracking of voting records Heller voted 93% with Trump. Just to show you how bad the Senate is, that puts him at 45th out of all senators and 45th out of all senate Republicans. Our own Jeff Flake ranks 43rd with a 95% Trump agreement score.

These guys are hardly “moderates” but Heller has staked out a politically risky position. I wish Flake would have the same gumption. Judging from the forum (see above) the locals will probably back him.

NPR reports on the flak Heller is taking for his stance: Senate Health Care Bill Hangs In The Balance As 5 Lawmakers Waver.

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller on Friday became the latest GOP lawmaker to voice concerns about the Senate health care bill — a development that further complicates Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“I cannot support a piece of legislation that takes away insurance from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans,” Heller said at a news conference back in Nevada.

It was a stunning indictment of his own party’s crucial legislation from Heller, who also said that it was a “lie” that the bill would lower insurance premiums.

Heller is the most vulnerable Republican senator up for re-election in 2018, and he represents a state that accepted the Medicaid expansion under the ACA, more commonly known as Obamacare.

Political pressure from the White House was already mounting against Heller, with the outside group America First Policies, which supports President Trump, was preparing a major ad buy targeting the Nevada senator.

“Obamacare is collapsing. This is a crisis for the American people. There is no excuse for any Republican or Democrat to oppose the Senate health care bill outright,” Brian O. Walsh, the group’s president, said in a statement. “Senator Heller, who once claimed he would focus on ‘repealing and replacing Obamacare with a willing partner in the White House,’ appears to be heading down a path with Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and the radical left. We sure hope he changes his mind as he learns more about the bill. We at America First Policies will make certain that citizens know who stood in the way of repealing and replacing Obamacare, and we will ensure the people’s voices are heard.”

So the right wing will run attack ads but you gotta hope that the people who have most to lose under the House and Senate bills will support Heller’s position.

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