Trump And House Conservatives Trying To Gut Healthcare Even More
March 22, 2017

While the Gorsuch hearings were going on, Devin Nunes was blowing smoke and Adam Schiff was dropping bombs, Donald Trump and the gang of conservatives in Congress were busy slashing even more health care protections, all behind closed doors.

This is all an effort to appease the Freedom Caucus, which has been a firm "No" on the bill from the beginning because it doesn't screw people enough.

Why the rush? They're anxious to vote tomorrow, because it is the 7th anniversary of the day the Affordable Care Act was signed. No, really. They desperately want to fly the bird at every person in this country who needs health care and has had the benefit of the ACA. Oh, and it wouldn't hurt to fly it at Obama, too.

So, here is what we're hearing. Nothing can be confirmed because Trump is meeting one-on-one with the holdouts to twist some arms and add some goodies to the bill.

Rumor has it that the "essential benefits package" is on the table. It's questionable that this could actually get past the Byrd rule, but anything to get that bill passed so Republicans can cheer and spit on Obama.

The essential health benefits package is the provision in the ACA requiring that all policies must offer a set of basic benefits -- maternity coverage, hospital coverage, drug rehabilitation, and more.

Apparently hitting pre-existing is a bridge too far?

They are also pushing to accelerate the repeal of taxes under the ACA, and more. Again, this is so they can thumb their noses at Obama and the ACA's beneficiaries.

The California Insurance Commissioner put out a statement today calling these changes "cruel."

Older Californians in their 50’s and 60’s will be devastated by Trumpcare. Covered California determined that, under ACA, a 62-year old with $17,000 annual income in 2020 who lives in Monterey, Santa Cruz, or San Benito County would have an out-of-pocket cost after subsidy of $622 per year. Under the AHCA, that same 62-year old will incur a massive increase in out-of-pocket cost, to $17,873 per year. The Manager’s Amendment purports to address the bill’s devastating impact on older Americans by playing a shell game in the Senate. The House Republican’s press release states that the Amendment “provides the Senate flexibility to potentially enhance the tax credit for those ages 50 to 64 who may need additional assistance,” without actually doing anything to accomplish this. Moreover, potentially increasing a capped tax credit does not protect seniors from the premium spikes permitted by the AHCA.

The good news here? The Kochs are offering a bounty fund for any Congressman who votes against this godforsaken bill. Not because they care about health care. Because they really want MORE people to die with a more full repeal of the bill. Still, there's no guarantee this crap bill will get through the House, much less the Senate.

This is our moment. Keep track of every single one of these nasty Republicans who votes for a bill to kill people. Then let's get rid of them in 2018. Every last one.

Update: Oh, look. Hitting essential health benefits has some conservatives sniffing around a Yes vote.

Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times explains why this is terrible policy. Of course, we won't actually know what's in the bill until they pass the damned thing.

But only minimal savings can be squeezed out of EHBs, in part because the most common and costly benefits are almost certainly immune to cutting. The authors of the Milliman paper, Rebekah Bayram and Barbara Dewey, judge that the benefits most vulnerable to repeal are pregnancy/maternity/newborn care, mental health and substance abuse, habilitative services (such as physical and occupational therapy and other disability services), and pediatric dental and vision care.

One problem spotlighted by this roster is that those benefits, taken together, amount to no more than 10% or 15% of the cost of essential health benefits. So cutting them would have a minimal effect on premiums in general.The biggest costs are in outpatient care, hospitalization and prescriptions, which Milliman doesn’t expect to be on the chopping block


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