President Trump was giddy with triumph — “I’m president. Can you believe it?” — on the day House Republicans gave him what he wanted: a “great plan” that will strip health care coverage from millions of Americans.
Fuzzy as usual about the details, Trump passed the Rose Garden celebration over to House Speaker Paul Ryan, who delivered the vote that makes him and his Republican cohort the proud owners of Trumpcare. According to Ryan, the plan will somehow make health care more affordable and take care of the most vulnerable. However, before the 217-213 vote in the House, the true scoop came from Senator Lindsey Graham: “A bill — finalized yesterday, has not been scored, amendments not allowed, and 3 hours final debate — should be viewed with caution,” tweeted the Republican senator from South Carolina.
Ryan couldn’t win passage of an earlier effort to replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill that failed to pass in March would have stripped coverage from 24 million people. This time around, Ryan rammed through a vote before the CBO could analyze the consequences. But even the conservative Wall Street Journal warned that this latest version puts millions at risk of losing health care benefits. One provision allows states to obtain waivers from certain insurance regulations mandated by Obamacare. With such a waiver, the Journal reported, “states could be freed from a regulation mandating that they cover 10 specific types of health services, including maternity care, prescription drugs, mental health treatment, and hospitalization.”
During debate on the House floor, Democrats railed against the Republican effort to repeal President Obama’s signature accomplishment. Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, said the GOP proposal was not a health care measure, but a tax cut for the rich, which will result in higher premiums and deductibles and cut coverage for everyone else. It discriminates against senior citizens and those with disabilities, steals from Medicare, and guts key protections for Americans with preexisting medical conditions, Pelosi said. Republicans, she warned, will have “every provision tattooed on your forehead. . . . You will glow in the dark on this one.”
On Thursday, House Republicans wore that tattoo proudly. They glowed happily as they took selfies in the Rose Garden, and Ryan pledged “to see this work through.”
Now it’s up to Republicans in the Senate to be the responsible members of their party and stop this legislation in its tracks. If they don’t, they will wear the same tattoo, the one that says they took health care coverage away from millions of voters who have come to rely on it, all in the name of a preening president.