Testing the resolve of our local senators (see previous post)
The Associated Press is reporting that Senate Majority Leader McConnell hasn't given up on Trumpcare. Earlier today he sweetened the pot to get our local Republican senators (Capito and Portman) to support the Republican health care proposal:
. . . . Republicans said party leaders had agreed to add $45 billion for battling opioids abuse to their health care bill.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is hoping the added anti-drug money will help win over moderate GOP senators like Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia. Their states are among many battered by rising death tolls from drug use and they've been pushing for the funds.
Giving them cover for their votes
Jonathan Cohn at Huffington Post adds more analysis:
The initial version of the Senate legislation, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his allies released last week, included an opioid treatment fund but allocated a measly $2 billion to it over a decade.
At the time, it was widely assumed that McConnell knew the sum was insufficient ― that his plan, all along, was to increase the funding once Capito and Portman demanded it, giving them a visible victory in negotiations that they could use to justify eventual support of repeal legislation.
(I can almost visualize the locals' headline ("Capito and Portman Get Increase in Federal Aid for the Opioid Epidemic") or Myer's column that explains what an incredible job Capito is doing serving West Virginians. Neither will likely mention the thousands of West Virginians who will lose their health care.)
Bumping up the fund by $43 billion over 10 years would be no small thing. But it would still represent a small fraction of the money that repealing Obamacare would drain from federal health programs.
And what are the Democrats saying?
According to Matt Laslo at Rolling Stone, Democrats still consider the plan to be a disaster:
But Democrats say even if GOP leaders toss another $45 billion to opioid prevention and treatment programs, the bill would still tie the hands of the nation's doctors, nurses and first responders because the cuts to Medicaid are so deep. They fear McConnell is now going to spend the July 4th recess trying to buy votes of senators like Capito using the $200 billion in deficit reduction the CBO says the bill provides.
Yogi Berra was right: "It ain't over till it's over."