Quiet negotiations between the Trump White House and the conservative Freedom Caucus have supposedly, maybe, perhaps produced progress of some possibly premature sort on the resurrection of Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare.
“I feel like we’re closer than we’ve ever been,” one GOP lawmaker told The Hill after leaving a meeting in the office of Speaker Paul Ryan earlier today. ““We don’t have bill text or an agreement yet,” Ryan himself said, adding that they’re “very close to consensus.”
Personally, I’d just love to see the Frankenstein monster of a bill born of such negotiations. I’m sure the American people would love to see it as well. I’m sure it will be carefully thought through and not at all slapdash or rushed or cobbled together to meet purely political needs. And I’m equally sure that a bill that previously attracted the support of a whopping 17 percent of Americans will somehow be even more appealing once conservative extremists within the GOP have rewritten it to their liking.
For example, as the Wall Street Journal describes one quasi-concept under consideration, “States could get exemptions that require most insurers to offer specific health benefits such as maternity care or hospitalization. They may also get exemptions from a provision that bans insurers from charging higher premiums to people with health conditions.”
In short, insurance would be cheaper for those who don’t need, and much more expensive for those who do. Note in particular that last sentence. Put another way, insurance companies could once again start to charge exorbitant prices to those with pre-existing conditions. Official permission to do so would come at the state regulatory level, allowing Congress to claim that its own hands were clean, but I doubt that evasion will buy them much cover.
The Republicans’ goal is apparently to produce new legislation and have a floor vote in the House on that new bill in the next two days, before Congress leaves town Thursday for a two-week recess. I do hope they succeed, and if they do I’m sure the bill they produce and go record as supporting is gonna be really really great and popular.
UPDATE: According to newly released Gallup data, 55 percent of Americans now support the Affordable Care Act, a significant increase over the 42 percent who supported it last November. Support has jumped by 10 points among Democrats, 10 points among Republicans and 17 percent among independents. Just 30 percent of Americans want the law to be repealed and replaced.