Reading more on the senate health care proposal
It's being worked out in secret and it appears that it will be pushed through with little or no debate. Here is what Sarah Kliff at VoxCare wrote late yesterday:
Behind closed doors, Senate Republicans have worked out a path toward Obamacare repeal. The plans under discussion would end Medicaid expansion, causing millions of low-income Americans to lose health coverage. They may allow health insurance plans to charge higher premiums to people with preexisting conditions, too.
In other words: The emerging bill looks a whole lot like the unpopular bill the House passed last month. It creates the same group of winners (high-income, healthier people) and the same group of losers (low-income, sicker people).
And, as I wrote yesterday, West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito is one of the reasons why it may happen. The article continues:
The Republican plan is coming together because moderate senators are beginning to drop some of their initial repeal objections. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Shelley Moore-Capito (R-WV), for example, criticized the House bill for its deep cuts to Medicaid. But now the two senators say they could support ending Medicaid expansion on a slightly longer timeline.
However, Senior Fellow Aviva Aron-Dine at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains why the Portman/Capito three-year extension will have no effect.
Now, Senate Republicans are reportedly coalescing around what may be an even worse Medicaid “compromise.” Senators Dean Heller, Rob Portman, Shelley Moore Capito, and others are supporting a phasedown of Medicaid expansion funding, with funding cuts still beginning in 2020.
That approach would not preserve anyone’s coverage in the long run. It also would do next to nothing to preserve Medicaid expansion in the short run.
(Note -- Aron-Dine explains in the actual analysis why the extension Capito supports will have no effect -- Medicaid would simply die.)
Charleston Gazette Mail spins it for Capito
West Virginia media coverage of all of this, with one exception, continues to be non-existent. That exception was this morning's Charleston Gazette Mail which carried a front page article on Capito and the Republican health care proposal by reporter Erin Beck. Unfortunately for G-M readers, Beck and the paper appear to have totally bought the Capito camp's spin on what happened. The article's headline tells us:
Capito bucks GOP Medicaid plan
This is a terrible headline. Capito isn't "bucking" anything. The original Republican plan phased out Medicaid in three years, recent articles (that even the G-M references) appear to have the number at five and Capito is pushing for seven years. Except for the timeline, she's not disagreeing with anything in the Republican proposal. And if the analysis I referenced above is correct, the number of years won't matter -- Medicaid expansion will quickly collapse regardless of the timeline once the proposal is passed. Despite her being in favor of defunding Medicaid, the article lets Capito spokesperson Ashley Berrang spin all of this as Capito standing up for West Virginians. In fact, a word count of the article finds that the Capito spokesperson is responsible for one-third of the article with the only semblance of balance coming at the end:
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has said in a letter to members of Congress, that repeal of Medicaid expansion would eliminate up to $900 million from West Virginia's health care economy, annually.
"Federal funding must be maintained or West Virginia's healthcare infrastructure will collapse," he wrote.
Well said, governor.
Lowering the bar on "compassionate conservatism"
Back in 2000, then presidential candidate George W. Bush ran as a "compassionate conservative" -- a conservative who cared about everyone -- not just the rich. The phrase disappeared not long after Bush became president when his policies quickly demonstrated the only caring was for his wealthy donors who were immediately rewarded with large tax cuts. The "compassionate conservative" phrase popped in my head while I was writing this as Capito's rhetoric on healthcare earlier this year had put her on the compassionate side (small as it may be) of her party. But that's now looking like smoke and mirrors as the party has pushed and shoved and she's quickly responding.
We don't know exactly what the Republicans in the Senate will come up with but it certainly appears that it may greatly affect Medicaid. Capito is no longer trying to prevent this from happening -- her only argument is when it will happen. Instead of fighting to keep Medicaid, she's trying to get the 170,000 West Virginians on Medicaid two more years of healthcare! I guess that makes her "compassionate."
I think the compassionate bar is now on the floor.