Yesterday, the House passed the amended American Health Care Act with a final vote of 217 to 213 (20 Republicans and all 193 Democrats voted against the bill). The vote was more about unifying the elected House Republicans under a “repeal Obamacare (PPACA)” bill as fast as possible than it was about making sure that the American people got “better” healthcare reform legislation. The Republicans who voted no were largely from districts where Hillary Clinton had won over President Trump in the last election. These Republicans do not represent “safe” Republican districts and therefore do not have the luxury of forwarding a Republican healthcare agenda that delivers fewer healthcare guarantees and rights than Americans had under Obamacare (PPACA). These no voting Republicans must actually answer to voters in 2018 and could lose their jobs if the Republican bill deliver ends up delivering less.
The changes to the original bill were aimed at securing the votes of the hard-line conservative faction of the Republican Party (called the Freedom Caucus). While only 7 Freedom Caucus members supported the original version of the American Health Care Act, 30 voted for the amended version. It is sad that the House Republicans needed to make the bill less favorable to the American people in order get enough of their members to pass the bill (see the figure below).
When the House passed the amended American Health Care Act yesterday, I was actually not surprised. Closely following the rushed Obamacare (PPACA) repeal process since January, my disgust for the ugliness of politics has finally turned to numbness. In American politics, money talks, the American people are manipulated to forward political agendas, and Americans remain divided under a “I’ve got mine, tough on you” attitude. The Republicans don’t even pretend anymore to be offering a “better” healthcare reform bill than Obamacare (PPACA). They simply keep repeating the tired political healthcare propaganda that the free market will miraculously bring us quality, affordable health care. I have come to accept the fact that our politicians do not have the American peoples’ best interests at heart.
When the House passed the amended American Health Care Act, did it consider who would suffer? Many, in fact, will suffer so that a select few may benefit. The poor and older Americans will end up paying dearly so that the richest Americans and various healthcare businesses that earn income and profits from health spending can have lower taxes. Healthcare affordability to a larger percentage of Americans will also suffer. Most Americans will see an erosion in healthcare benefits because Obamacare’s foundation for health coverage (Essential Health Benefits) will be chipped away by state governments, the American Health Care Act’s “hatchet men” for undoing Obamacare’s healthcare rights and guarantees.
Watching the celebration at the White House after the House passed the amended American Health Care Act reminded me of the “nyah-nyah-we-won” taunting of Democrats a few months ago. I would have liked a celebration marking the beginning of quality, affordable health care for all Americans that was “better” than what we have under Obamacare (PPACA). Instead Americans got a “check mark” in the “win” column for President Trump and the Republican agenda.
House Republicans also chalked one for the “win” column and were finally able to hand over the Obamacare (PPACA) repeal hot potato to the Senate for the next step to get rid of Obamacare guarantees and rights. Unfortunately for the American public, speedy “check marks” in Republican “win” columns will not give us healthcare reform that is “better” than Obamacare (PPACA).
The Senate will have to evaluate the bill more closely than did the House. Under the rules of the budget reconciliation process (remember that this bill is a budget reconciliation bill only), the bill cannot raise the budget deficit. The Senate will also have to wait for an estimation of the bill’s cost from the Congressional Budget Office–something the House failed to do in its rush for a “win”.
The course of healthcare reform legislation is too important to be treated like some notch on a teenager’s bedpost. It will affect every American and not just those who buy their health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace. I advise every American to see how their Representative. When new healthcare reform legislation is finally put into action, you will know who to thank (or replace) during the next election.