If this doesn't put the final nail in #Trumpcare, I'm not sure what will...but KEEP CALLING.
The latest iteration of the AHCA is supposedly being scheduled for a vote (for real, this time) sometime this week. The pressure is high on both sides, the whip counts are bouncing around, the tension is palpable, etc etc.
The first time around, the biggest tug-of-war was over Medicaid expansion. This time, the major issue seems to be Pre-Existing Condition coverage...and along with it, Guaranteed Issue and Essential Health Benefits; the three have to be pretty much joined at the hip, since removing one effectively makes the other two pointless in practice. It doesn't do most people much good to be told that yes, they'll be covered even if they have cancer if that coverage is gonna cost them $50,000/month.
Anyway, people are furiously scrambling to call their member of Congress and lighting up social media spreading the word...while Donald Trump, MIke Pence and Paul Ryan are running around DC desperately trying to squeak out 216 "Yes" votes from the Republican caucus.
And then, Monday, four amazing things happened.
First was Donald Trump's disastrous interview with John Dickerson on Face the Nation, where, among other things, he flat-out lied about pre-existing condition coverage being guaranteed by the AHCA bill:
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I just watched another network than yours, and they were saying, "Pre-existing is not covered." Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said, "Has to be."
...But we have now pre-existing conditions in the bill. We have -- we've set up a pool for the pre-existing conditions so that the premiums can be allowed to fall. We're taking across all of the borders or the lines so that insurance companies can compete--
...But when I watch some of the news reports, which are so unfair, and they say we don't cover pre-existing conditions, we cover it beautifully... I'll tell you who doesn't cover pre-existing conditions. Obamacare. You know why? It's dead.
...all of which is a crock of sh*t, because states can easily opt out of covering pre-existing conditions under waiver requests which are automatically approved unless Tom Price actively disapproves of them, which of course he wouldn't because he's on the record as not wanting pre-existing conditions to be mandated in the first place.
In any event, while everything that Trump says has to be taken with the worlds biggest boulder of salt, the fact remains that he's now on the record as insisting that pre-existing coverage be mandated...and changing the bill to do that would take it right back where it started, thus losing the 30-odd House Freedom Caucus extremists who refused to play ball the first time around.
At the same time, as others have noted, this development also gives the so-called "moderates" in the GOP a lot of cover to vote "No" on this version of the bill since, after all, it clearly doesn't guarantee pre-existing coverage.
The second development was this jaw-droppingly callous and cruel story about GOP Representative Mo Brooks (AL-05), who openly declared that anyone with a pre-existing condition deserves to be kicked to the curb because they "didn't lead a good life"*:
*Note: Not a precise quote; see below:
"My understanding is that (the new proposal) will allow insurance companies to require people who have higher health care costs to contribute more to the insurance pool," Brooks said. "That helps offset all these costs, thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they're healthy, they've done the things to keep their bodies healthy. And right now, those are the people--who've done things the right way--that are seeing their costs skyrocketing."
Yeah, yeah, he's probably thinking about staying physically fit, eating properly and so on...but there's a shitload of people born with congenital heart problems and the like, and millions of people who develop cancer or other critical conditions even if they take good care of themselves. Not to mention that Donald Trump himself is pretty much a fat tub of lard, and I'm pretty sure at least a third of the members of Congress aren't exactly the picture of perfect health themselves. The backlash to Brooks' statement has been swift and severe already.
The third development came in the evening via another GOP Representative, Billy Long (MO-07). Long, who I understand has been a die-hard Trump supporter, suddenly and unexpectedly stated that he's gonna be a NO vote...specifically due to the pre-existing coverage factor:
Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.) said Monday that he opposes the revised GOP ObamaCare replacement bill because it weakens protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
Long’s announcement was unexpected, and a bad sign for GOP leaders looking to round up enough votes to be able to pass the measure as soon as this week. Long was not on the radar as a possible no vote.
“I have always stated that one of the few good things about ObamaCare is that people with pre-existing conditions would be covered,” Long said in a statement. “The MacArthur amendment strips away any guarantee that pre-existing conditions would be covered and affordable.”
According to multiple sources, the primary reason for Rep. Long's change of heart is that his own daughter has been diagnosed with cancer.
I'm sure Rep. Long has a few choice words to say about his GOP colleague Rep. Brooks' statement.
But the real capper of the day was this. Watch the whole thing (about 13 minutes). Trust me.
As POLITICO Pulse's Dan Diamond noted:
Kimmel’s show is seen by 2 million viewers per night.
Something tells me a lot more than 2 million people will end up seeing this clip. https://t.co/UfOYMuK4td
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) May 2, 2017
My guess is that these four developments, taken as a whole, have stomped all over the AHCA vote. HOWEVER, Paul Ryan is absolutely desperate to get something passed which will a) give fat tax cuts to billionaires and b) allow him to claim that he "repealed Obamacare", and a cornered tiger is always dangerous, so those opposed to Trumpcare can't assume anything. Keep calling, keep writing, don't let them off the hook until we're absolutely certain that the ACA is safe (at which point the work will hopefully turn to repairing and improving it, which is still desperately needed as well).