On Friday, local congressman David McKinley did an extended interview with Scott Finn of West Virginia Public Broadcasting. (The article about the interview says that coverage of the 21+ minute interview was part of this morning's newscast.) Most of the interview (which you can listen to here) dealt with the recently-passed American Health Care Act that McKinley recently supported.
I listened to the interview and Finn, for the most part, asked open-ended questions that allowed McKinley to make all sorts of assertions about what the Act will accomplish. Finn seldom pressed McKinley on his points. For example, here's what the article said about the number of people who will lose coverage:
The Congressional Budget Office did not have time to score this version of the bill, but it said the previous version would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 24 million people.
McKinley is skeptical of that number, and pointed out the CBO says the average premium will cost less under the American Health Care Act.
If you listen to the interview, Finn moves on once McKinley asserts that the premiums will drop. Shouldn't Finn have asked why McKinley was skeptical. Obviously the CBO factored in a drop in premiums and still saw 24 million losing insurance. (And the CBO's score was for the first try at Trumpcare -- the AHCA became even more conservative in order to get more House Tea-Party-types onboard to ensure its passage.) What does McKinley know that the CBO ignored when it came up with the 24 million figure? (I'd guess nothing.) We'll never know because Finn never asked.
Similarly, Finn raised the question of funding for drug abuse programs -- something that the critics of AHCA have focused upon and once again Finn never pressed any of McKinley's answers.
Critics of the House bill say it reduces funding for Medicaid, and makes services like substance abuse treatment optional for states.
But McKinley said the bill contains additional funding to cover drug treatment.
“It’s disingenuous for anyone to suggest that we’re not going to have adequate money for Medicaid for people on drug overdose problems. We’re going to have that,” he said.
"Disingenuous?" Who's being disingenuous? I assume Finn researched this issue before he asked McKinley about it. Here are three typical analyses of many which conclude that the AHCA will worsen the problem. From Newsweek:
The Plight of Opioid Addiction May Get a Lot Worse with the American Health Care Act
The Republican health care bill would make America’s deadliest drug overdose crisis even worse
And here's Stat, an online source that I believe does an excellent job of covering the intersection of medicine and politics:
As they fight the opioid crisis, addiction counselors see a grave new threat: the GOP health plan
The article is lengthy with interviews from counselors including one from West Virginia which begins the article:
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — When the Republicans’ first effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act collapsed earlier this spring, Mary Aldred-Crouch, an addiction counselor here, saw that failure as a victory. “It was Snoopy dance time,” she said.
But the Republicans didn’t give up. And when the House passed a more conservative version of the GOP health plan last week, Aldred-Crouch felt her anxiety spike. West Virginia, like other states afflicted by the opioid crisis, lately has seen so many more patients with drug addiction find treatment.
The new bill threatens to destroy that progress, Aldred-Crouch and other counselors say.
“When I heard it passed, I about fell out of my chair,” she said, noting that the three House members from West Virginia — all Republicans — backed the measure. “I am so disappointed in them, I can’t see straight. You just torched the health benefits of 200,000 West Virginians, and in the middle of an [opioid] epidemic.”
It's too bad that Mary Aldred-Crouch didn't get to do the interview with McKinley instead of Scott Finn. (And it's no wonder McKinley would rather talk to WV Public Broadcasting than to his constituents.)