President Donald Trump claimed during his presidential campaign that he wanted to repeal and replace Obamacare, and thus far, he has kept to that word. However, his moves regarding the new American Health Care Act to replace Obamacare are not working well for him. When the House Republicans put out their new bill on healthcare, most expected it to be a complete change. However, they kept a lot of stuff in that was similar to Obamacare.
However, it only Republicanized it, which made the entire thing a bit warped. Most conservatives wanted a new healthcare law due to the various flaws Obamacare had. Even Democrats recognized the problems with Obamacare and planned to amend it if Hillary Clinton took office over Donald Trump. Obviously, Trump won, so it was up to the Republicans to replace a bill that they have been dogging ever since it first came into existence.
Despite having over six years to come up with a new plan, it seemed that they rushed to put a new healthcare bill together, but not much has changed. Even other Republicans in Congress have criticized it, with Rand Paul calling it “Obamacare-lite,” and he is not alone as various others have spoken out against it. However, the two big wigs that the Republicans needed to support the bill seem to be in favor of it.
Both President Trump and Vice President Pence have come out in support of the healthcare bill. However, it seems that they too see flaws with it. Both have claimed that they are open to discussion and negotiation on it, which pretty much says that they know it needs to be fixed before it becomes a law. The issue with this is that due to Trump’s comments on the bill, by neither being fully supportive or against it, Congress is going into chaos.
According to Politico, the mixed signals from President Trump regarding the bill have caused a bit of a rift in Congress, with Republicans at odds on the bill and how it is presented.
They claimed, “The mixed signals have allowed hard-line conservatives and leadership to hear what they want to hear. Each side is taking Trump’s words and arguing he’s in their corner. Take the president’s message to outside conservative groups during a Wednesday night meeting at the White House. The president indicated he might be willing to change the GOP health plan so that Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion is phased out a year or two more quickly. GOP critics in Congress took the president’s statement and ran with it, crafting an amendment to codify ending the Medicaid expansion at the end of this year rather than 2019.”
Texas Representative and Republican Study Committee/House of Free Caucus member Joe Barton claimed that a change in the Medicaid expansion would “go a long way toward getting conservatives to support the bill.” He’s not too far off, as this is one of the key issues that various Republicans in Congress are having trouble with as of now. Due to this, an idea was brought up that would kill off the expansion this year rather than 2020.
The problem with the Medicaid expansion situation is that there are GOP leaders that were favor of it and took on this expansion in their state. Thus, it could be an issue trying to balance this with the people who have called the bill “Obamacare-lite.” Basically, we have a half-and-half proposal. The long-term Medicaid expansion window, ending the expansion in 2020, was useful to those who took it on. However, those who did not among newer GOP members do not want it included at all.
Ohio Senator Rob Portman called the removal of expansion this year a “bad idea.”
He warned the House to keep millions of low-come American people in mind as they consider the bill, saying, “I hope it won’t be [adopted] because I think it’s moving backwards… It makes it harder for some of us.”
He’s not wrong, either, as millions of people have had help with Medicaid through the expansion.
Politico is reporting that the Medicaid disagreement is not the only place where Republicans are split when it comes to the bill, as the timing of getting to President Trump is being debated as well. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan are wanting to send the bill to Trump’s desk before the Easter congressional recess. However, even if he bill does get the 216 votes it needs to pass, it is being reported that many senators are most assuredly going to reverse it.
This would end up taking more time, which is an issue for many people. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton claims that he wants to Senate to hold hearings to pursue a “stress-free” process for Americans who would be affected by the repeal and replace. Millions will be affected, so Senator Cotton is certainly right in that people will need for things to be easy for them during the move to another plan, especially if there may be a price increase.
Cotton claimed, “They’ve got a process that is not going to yield a good result. No American cares whether a health care bill passes before the Easter recess or the Memorial Day recess or any other recess.”
Senator Cotton is probably 100 percent right in his claims. Americans don’t care when a new healthcare bill is passed as long as it looks good and helps the country. If the bill ends up being rushed through and hurts most Americans, especially those that were helped by Obamacare, then the bill would be more of a problem than what it replaced. Obviously, Americans would want to have a healthcare law that helps rather than hurts them, both financially and as a whole.
Various conservatives and moderates in the Senate claimed this bill by the House would be dead on arrival, mainly because it would defund Planned Parenthood and create the tax credits that Republicans liked over Democrats. This would not work out for them.
Of course, the tax credits issue may be something that Republicans try to bend on, as they could create a plan that is similar to Obamacare there, but it does not go back to the original Obamacare ideology. A few days ago, party leaders would vow that the bill will remain relatively intact. This is where President Trump comes into play, however. Some on Capitol Hill and in the White House are seemingly in deal-maker mode, according to Politico.
President Trump is willing to negotiate, but it’s undetermined how far he is willing to bend at this point. He has been a bit vague, which was done in the hopes that some changes would be made. This has seemingly caused a bit of an issue, as Republicans obviously want to create a bill that the president would want to make into law. If Trump was given a bill he did not like, he would veto it and the process would start all over again.
President Trump did support the American Health Care Act, but the moment he and Vice President Pence claimed that they were open for discussion and negotiation, that proved they were not in full support — regardless of the claims made afterward. If they liked the bill intact, negotiation on it would not be needed whatsoever. However, he tweeted to Rand Paul to fall in line with the current bill, despite Paul being one of the biggest Republican opponents of it.
Trump and Pence, along with Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, told the Republicans that they should try to amend the bill if they want changes, rather than sink the entire thing. This could be why Trump and Pence came out in support of the bill despite knowing changes probably need to be made to it.
Despite this, people are seeing through President Trump when he mentioned the possibility of a negotiation. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke with Politico, saying that those comments made by the president and vice president mean amending the bill in what is called the “third phase” of repeal. The legislation would most likely be taken up later this year and include some reforms that cannot be adopted now “via the fast-track budget reconciliation mechanism” that pushes out Senate Democrats.
The second phase would include the regulatory changes that can be adopted by the administration.
McCarthy would pan this in some aspects, “Are they sure that’s what Trump said? When Trump says, ‘If you have better ideas,’ I think he’s thinking in the [later] phase they offer bills going forward.”
Senator Cornyn claimed that the president did want to repeal and replace the bill.
“The president realizes this is our one chance to keep our promise and it’s this bill or it’s the status quo. And the status quo is melting down as we speak. He’s wedded to successfully repealing and replacing. He understands that this legislative process is going to make some changes to the proposal.”
Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said on Thursday, “We’ve been told by the vice president and Mulvaney that he’s flexible. I’ve been working with centrist senators to try and find the sweet spot. And I believe that we can.”
Republican South Dakota Senator John Thune, No. 3 in Senate leadership, said after meeting with Price and Pence, “There’s got to be an opportunity for the Senate to be heard on this. Given the major gulf between the two GOP-controlled chambers. There are lots of ways you can fix and amend the bill. And that would have to go back to the House, obviously. I wouldn’t rule that out.”
Basically, all of this means is President Trump does not seemingly find himself in full favor, but that is causing some issues from those who are trying to appease him to get the bill by and those who want a working bill to be presented. There are also those who want it to be sent as fast as possible to him, while others want to wait and send a bill when it’s fully ready, with debate on some changes.
The rift is present in all of this because, basically, some believe Trump means one thing and others believe he means another. Some also feel the fast-track version would be best while others feel the Senate would block it. All of this being said, the new healthcare bill is going to be a huge discussion in Congress for months. We’re likely to see amendments added, some blocks, and much more. It should be quite a fun time in Washington, D.C.
[Featured Image by Jim Lo Scalzo/AP Images]