The Trump administration’s struggle with the American healthcare system will most certainly go down in history as one of the most embarrassing feats of ineptitude in both presidential and congressional history. Mark my words, it will be a Watergate. Best case scenario, it will be burned into history as a failure to the American people, a scar on the shining reputation we insist on having, that we’re the best, the most free, the most pure, the most successful and most righteous. (I will continue to point to this clip any time this point comes up for debate as the final word on that topic.) Worst case, a disturbing amount of people will die, and it will be government sanctioned murder. So why, for a second time, and after a humiliating March defeat of their loudly promoted healthcare bill, are Republicans back at the table trying to continue to push through disaster? Let’s discuss.
Last week, the House voted in favor of death. Quite literally under the bill that they passed on to the Senate, many Americans have been put into immediate and mortal jeopardy. This is dumbfounding because a clear outline on what they voted on was only provided to them in legislative text at the last minute. Politico stated just days before the vote, “The White House does not schedule House floor votes. And while some senior administration officials suggested Thursday that a vote will occur next week, multiple House GOP sources told POLITICO that is unlikely.” They continued, “There is no legislative text and therefore no agreement to do a whip count on.”
To top it off, Trump doesn’t even seem clear on the specifics of the bill. Just days ago he told John Dickerson on CBS’s Face The Nation, “Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said, ‘Has to be.’” He went on to cryptically add that they “actually have a clause that guarantees” protections for preexisting conditions, cryptically summating that the GOP healthcare legislation is “changing.” It isn’t a shock at this point that this is all likely misinformation, but it’s concerning to say the least … and, as our top public servant, it should be illegal for the president to speak in both platitudes and falsehoods.
This all contradicts the deal that the very conservative House Freedom Caucus just cut, led by moderate New Jersey rep Tom MacArthur. It continues to require insurers to provide coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, but it sneakily offers them a wide loophole. They would be allowed to charge those members more, and the deal didn’t specify a cap to that potential premium amount. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has yet to analyze the deal, but the AARP projects premiums in the high-risk pools would soar to potentially $25,700 a year. Like the last version of the bill, the also nonpartisan American Medical Association is urged lawmakers to not get behind it, saying the pools “could effectively make coverage completely unaffordable to people with preexisting conditions.” Trump on the other hand doubled-down in the same interview, lying, “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.”
If Obama proved anything, and perhaps this point he proved a little too well, nothing in government should be rushed. Not only is the pace of democracy the difference between getting things done and not, it’s the difference between making good and bad decisions. (Look at the War on Terror, for example). Obama took months working on the Affordable Care Act, constructing over 2,000 pages of parameters with Congress. Trump on the other hand is trickling down pressure on Congress to essentially fling more shit at the wall, for the sake of fulfilled campaign promises. Thankfully the Senate will have to revise and send the bill back to the House for a second vote, but with their Republican majority, the outlook is still grim.
The health of the American people, our lives are literally boiling down to the ego of one (potentially not even that) wealthy white man. And that is something people need to sit down and think about. Think about anyone you love who has ever faced a serious illness. Even those with something as common as asthma could end up with astronomically unaffordable premiums. Your uncle with diabetes won’t have insulin. If your mother’s cancer came back, she wouldn’t have coverage to fight it. These are real scenarios that will kill people if we let Congress push through an irresponsible vanity bill in place of actual healthcare legislation. Call your representatives and let them know that no one deserves to die over a dollar. Here is a quick guide to doing so.
Chloe Stilwell is a Nashville-based columnist focusing on politics, culture and feminism.