Republicans are once again trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act after the first attempt at “Trumpcare” went down in flames. The new effort appears to be an attempt to show progress before Trump hits 100 days in office, a key date for an administration that nearly across the board has failed to deliver on lofty campaign promises.
But the revised legislation retains all the negatives of the original, including stripping 24 million people of health insurance while protecting coverage for members of Congress, and adds newer, odious provisions requested by the right flank of the Republican Party.
The revised bill was largely engineered by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) and is designed to bridge the divide between the two warring factions within the GOP, the Freedom Caucus and the Tuesday Group.
The MacArthur amendment to the GOP’s American Health Care Act has a provision to immediately grant waivers to states; as with pre-existing conditions, the amendment would allow states who are so inclined to roll back the clock to the old system of coverage for women without penalty. Health care expert Timothy Jost notes, “Any state that wanted a waiver would get one.”
For example, a state could choose to drop the maternity coverage section of the extended health benefits included in Obamacare, and an insurer could then charge more for this service, as they would be allowed to do with pre-existing conditions.
Dawn Laguens, executive Vice President for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, slammed the bill in a statement: “They took a bad bill that would result in 24 million people losing their insurance and higher premiums and actually made it worse.”
Odds of passage of the new bill are low, and even if it passes the House, many Senate Republicans have seen how poorly the bill polls and are unwilling to stick out their necks for an unpopular Trump. Scott Wong of The Hill quoted an anonymous “moderate Republican” illustrating the dilemma for the GOP on the new bill: “If I vote for this healthcare bill it will be the end of my career.”
Meanwhile, Democrats have maintained unity, leaving Republicans to scramble to find votes within their own caucus.
Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, even within their own party, are largely on their own, and they chose to put women’s health up as a bargaining chip anyway.