I Left the Country for Five Minutes and Zombie Trumpcare Rose Again

I really, really, really didn’t want to have to write this. And for a while, it seemed like I might not have to. After the failure of the last “repeal and replace” attempts in Congress, it seemed like we might be ready to return to some semblance of regular order. The Health committee planned to hold hearings about stabilizing the Obamacare exchanges, the VoxCare newsletter talked about healthcare after hurricanes and the HHS budget instead of haphazard attempts by the U.S. Senate to kill as many people as possible. It was great.

But if zombie apocalypses have anything in common, it’s that killing an individual zombie doesn’t stop the apocalypse. You have to kill the source — and the source here is a Republican controlled Congress. In 2018, we have to take back the House.

In the meantime, the zombie rises once again and we have to spend precious hours calling our members of Congress and asking them not to kill us. And even though we’ve killed several bills like this one, and it seems absurd to think they might pass what is arguably a worse version than their other failed attempts, we know by now that the Senate Republicans are craven cowards, unwilling to be the final nail in the repeal and replace coffin. Will John McCain stand by his fiery speech about a return to regular order? What amount of money is Lisa Murkowski’s vote worth? Will Shelley Moore Capito protect her constituents from themselves?

Who really cares if these people have jobs at the end of the day, anyway? Washington has already proven that they will be accepted after defeat with open arms, and likely larger salaries. Just ask Rick Santorum.

Like previous versions of trumpcare, massive Medicaid cuts provide the basis for this bill, which would eliminate the Medicaid expansion that 30 of the 50 states took advantage of and redistribute that money as block grants to each state. These grants would only be authorized through 2026, making it easier for them to be reduced or eliminated altogether in the future. The bill would also remove important Obamacare advances such as essential health benefits, which require insurance plans to cover things like prescription drugs, hospital and doctor’s visits, and maternity care. The bill also eliminates protections for people with pre-existing conditions — insurance companies will still have to provide coverage, but they will be free to charge those with pre-existing conditions more than other consumers.

You can see a full breakdown of what’s in the bill here or here, but in sum: this is a crueler version of the same bullshit we’ve seen before. What is put forth as an answer to a “failing” Affordable Care Act turns out to be an opportunity to undo decades of advancement in healthcare coverage. The bill is being sold as an attempt to return control over healthcare to the states, but states, including many Republican governors, have pointed out that control is useless when they don’t have the money to make any demonstrable progress.

This bill and the process of getting it to the floor in many ways epitomizes the insidiousness of the entire healthcare fight. Republican senators can’t explain what’s in the bill, they are misleading the public on its impact, they are rushing it through before a CBO score or hearings can tell the public what that impact is, they are ignoring experts, testimony by their own constituents, and any degree of common sense. But the worst part is this quote, as reported by the New York Times:

“Right now, 37 percent of the revenue from the Affordable Care Act goes to Americans in four states” — California, New York, Massachusetts and Maryland, Mr. Cassidy said. “That is frankly not fair.”

On it’s surface, this might seem like a fairly innocuous, even pretty accurate statement. But it ignores an extraordinarily important facet of the Affordable Care Act. Senator Cassidy claims that it’s “not fair” that some states get more funding than others under this law, blatantly ignoring the fact that not only did 20 states choose not to accept federal funding for the Medicaid expansion, they actually sued the federal government for their right to do that. That the GOP is lying to us again is not a surprise, but every time I am floored anew by the absolutely abhorrent hypocrisy and condescension. They think we are dumb. They think we aren’t paying attention.

Let’s prove them wrong.

Follow Ben Wikler, Andy Slavitt and Topher Spiro for more information. Visit Trump Care Ten and Indivisible for action. If you live in a blue state, you can use Indivisible’s Calls to Kill Trumpcare tool to call constituents in red states and connect them directly to their Senators. And you can look here to find an event near you. And as always, if you want scripts for calling your Senators, you can check out 5 Calls or ask any of us at the Nevertheless Project.

You can also submit testimony to the Finance committee who will hold one hearing (Hallelujah — how art our standards fallen) by emailing GCHcomments@finance.senate.gov. Please take every opportunity to make your voice heard.

We’ll see you out there.

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We all woke up on November 9th realizing that the fight was going to be harder, longer, and more painful than we’d ever imagined. But over and over again, people have stood up, gotten knocked down and stood up once again. Nevertheless, they persisted. And we will too.

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