Monday Reads: There’s Evil Afoot!Posted: June 12, 2017
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
The Senate is trying desperately to sneak through a repeal of the ACA and replace it with a plan that will leave the majority of pre-Medicare seniors with health insurances costs that are more than their incomes. The Plan includes a raid on Medicare.
As many have noted, the GOP’s plan to “repeal and replace” Obamacare will hit Trump voters hardest. It’s no mystery as to why. As the New York Times explained, “The Republican plan offers less assistance to older and lower income Americans, especially in rural areas.” Due to the lack of competition for insurers and health care providers, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) documented, 12 of the 15 states hardest hit by the AHCA’s shriveled tax credits are rural ones. Fourteen of the 15 voted for Donald Trump for president in 2016. And with the GOP’s plan to redirect $880 billion in Medicaid spending to tax cuts for the richest Americans, older Americans—especially those near the poverty line—will face catastrophic increases in premiums, rendering health insurance an impossible acquisition:
(It should be noted that these effects won’t be limited to those obtaining insurance through the individual or non-group market. As the Wall Street Journal (“GOP Health Bill Jeopardizes Out-of-Pocket Caps in Employer Plans”) and the Brookings Institution warned, “Allowing states to define ‘essential health benefits’ could weaken ACA protections against catastrophic costs for people with employer coverage nationwide.”)
Now, it should be said that the version of the AHCA Senate Republicans are contemplating may not be as disastrous as the draconian House bill. It is rumored that the phase-out of the Medicaid expansion may be extended to seven years. While maintaining the ability for states to waive Obamacare’s list of essential health benefits, a Senate bill may limit insurers ability to charge more to those with pre-existing conditions who let their coverage lapse. Regardless, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is committed to getting a vote on the GOP’s Obamacare replacement bill before the August recess. As for Donald Trump, he’s “all in.”
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Sarah Kliff–writing for Vox–believes that Obamacare is in ‘real danger’ from the Republican Senate led by Creepy Turtle Man. McConnell has been working on all the angles and rules that could create a health crisis for years ahead. As I mentioned on Friday, he’s severely limited discussion, not allowing modification, keeping the bill under wraps, and plans to force it through with the VEEP giving it 50 vote. This on top of all the people that basically hate the idea of it all. What will their constituents do next year?
Behind closed doors, Senate Republicans have worked out a path toward Obamacare repeal. The plans under discussion would end Medicaid expansion, causing millions of low-income Americans to lose health coverage. They may allow health insurance plans to charge higher premiums to people with preexisting conditions, too.
In other words: The emerging bill looks a whole lot like the unpopular bill the House passed last month. It creates the same group of winners (high-income, healthier people) and the same group of losers (low-income, sicker people).
The Republican plan is coming together because moderate senators are beginning to drop some of their initial repeal objections. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), for example, now back a plan to end the Medicaid expansion.
Both were ardent critics of the House bill’s deep Medicaid cuts, which would cause 14 million Americans who rely on the public program to lose coverage. Portman put out a harsh statement the day the House passed its health care bill.
“I’ve already made clear that I don’t support the House bill as currently constructed because I continue to have concerns that this bill does not do enough to protect Ohio’s Medicaid expansion population,” Portman said plainly.
But now Portman has endorsed a plan to phase out the Medicaid expansion entirely, just to do so on a longer timeline than the House bill. Portman and Moore Capito want a seven-year phase out, rather than the House bill’s three-year off-ramp.
At the end of the day, though, phasing out Medicaid expansion over seven years has the same effect as three years: You end coverage for millions of low-income Americans.
There are still major issues that divide Senate Republicans on repeal. There is disagreement, for example, over how much to cut the Medicaid program and what kind of subsidies to give people in the private market. But the fact that Republicans are coalescing around ending Medicaid expansion — once thought to be a major sticking point — suggests the path to repeal may be easier to find than initial expectations.
The Senate GOP will not even release the draft of the bill despite seeking a vote on it shortly. Is stealth legislation the new normal?
You know it’s pure evil since Lucifer is trying on a new hat. Ted Cruz as Dealmaker? Seriously?
Cruz has been working to pass a health-care bill for several months. He set up a working group of conservatives and moderates, starting with Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, which later expanded to include party leaders. They met once a week for two months in Cruz’s conference room without the press catching wind of it — a point of pride for Cruz.
“The week after the election I brought my staff together,” he said, and told them they had a new mission. For the past four years, he told them, they had been fighting “a president with a radical agenda” and had focused on stopping bad things from happening as the loyal opposition.
The only good news in all of this is that the GOP seems seriously worried about losing the House of Representatives in 2018. I’m pretty sure forcing through this abomination of policy in such a totally undemocratic manner will not help their cause.
Republicans are growing increasingly worried that they will lose the House of Representatives. The pervasive pessimism comes as there continues to be a dearth of legislative victories, and a toxic political environment that appears to be worsening. Of course, the midterm elections are nearly a year and a half away. But more than a dozen Republicans we’ve spoken to in the last few weeks say the prospect for political and legislative wins big and small is dimming. And as much as President Donald Trump has worked to woo over fellow Republicans with dinners at the White House and regular meetings with GOP leadership, it hasn’t had much of an impact on the overall state of play.
THE RANK AND FILE has been frustrated with the House committees, which have not produced a drumbeat of legislation to tout as victories. And the party is deeply split on health-care reform, a tax overhaul and infrastructure spending. Passing a budget to set the groundwork for tax reform is still seen as far off. And the congressional schedule doesn’t leave a lot of time to kick things into high gear. The House is in session for 13 more days and the Senate is in session for 14 more days before the July 4 recess. Not to mention, there’s serious concern in the GOP that there could be more revelations about President Donald Trump, and Robert Mueller’s investigation still remains the wild card. Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifying Tuesday before the Senate Intel Committee is expected to just add more drama to distract from the GOP agenda into the mix.
WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN? Republicans will be less willing to take risks as they shift into political survival mode.
Meanwhile, the Trump Circus of Grift continues to play the big tent. Sessions will testify in an open committee hearing. Check the reporting of CNN’s Manu Raju here.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ letter on Saturday offering to testify before the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday caught members of the panel by surprise, and senators are concerned he’s trying to avoid testifying publicly, a source familiar with the situation says.
The committee has not confirmed the Tuesday date for Sessions’ testimony and are still discussing whether to allow him to testify in open or closed session, or both, as former FBI Director James Comey did last week.
A number of members are concerned Sessions may be attempting to avoid testifying in public by scrapping his previously scheduled Senate and House Appropriations appearances this week, where he was expected to be grilled on issues related to the federal investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence the US election, several sources say. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the vice chairman of the panel, is among those concerned, a source says.
One final note on Trump which always leads me to a good hot shower to get off the scummy feeling that Orange Swamp Thing eminates. Check out this WAPO headline: ‘D.C. and Maryland sue President Trump, alleging breach of constitutional oath’.
Attorneys general for the District of Columbia and the state of Maryland sued President Trump on Monday, alleging that he has violated anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution by accepting millions in payments and benefits from foreign governments since moving into the White House.
The lawsuit, the first of its kind brought by government entities, centers on the fact that Trump chose to retain ownership of his company when he became president. Trump said in January that he was shifting his business assets into a trust managed by his sons to eliminate potential conflicts of interests.
But D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) and Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) say Trump has broken many promises to keep separate his public duties and private business interests. For one, his son Eric Trump has said the president would continue to receive regular updates about his company’s financial health.
The lawsuit, a signed copy of which Racine and Frosh provided to The Washington Post on Sunday night, alleges “unprecedented constitutional violations” by Trump. The suit says Trump’s continued ownership of a global business empire has rendered the president “deeply enmeshed with a legion of foreign and domestic government actors” and has undermined the integrity of the U.S. political system.
It’s like Trump’s the clown that runs around in circles trying to keep you from noticing the circus beats the elephants, starves the big cats, and lets the women fall out of sequin costumes as they spin to their deaths from badly serviced equipment.
So, that’s the bad news for this morning. I’m sure more is on its way. After all, we have Republicans and that means greed and bad ideas abound!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?