House Republicans leave America’s sick and old high and dry

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House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. greets guests as he walks to the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Should you catch a bad break, Republicans in Congress are prepared to leave you high and dry.

Maybe you have a son or daughter who has developed a mental illness. Good luck, if House Republicans get their way, trying to find an affordable health insurance plan for your family.


Maybe you are pregnant. Good luck finding an insurance plan at a price you can pay that covers maternity care.

Maybe you had an accident and have to go to an emergency room. Your GOP-championed health insurance plan may not cover the bill, which can be enormous. Good luck there, too.

The GOP health care bill approved by the House on Thursday afternoon, defenders say, is rooted in compassion and good financial sense. But it could leave millions of Americans who have pre-existing health conditions out in the cold. It would roll back an expansion of Medicaid. It would leave, the Congressional Budget Office said — looking at an earlier version of the bill — 24 million Americans without health insurance.

But wait. How did the CBO score this latest version of the GOP bill? What did the CBO say would be the real cost to ordinary Americans of this supposedly new-and-improved bill?

The CBO has not scored it. Not yet. The CBO hasn’t had a chance. Republicans in the House dared not wait for a scoring before taking Thursday’s vote. They knew the verdict would not be good.

“Republicans are afraid of the facts,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, accurately, during a pathetically short debate before the vote. “Afraid of learning the full consequences.”

The full consequences are that ordinary Americans will be hurt. And the full truth is that while the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, is functioning insufficiently and needs reworking, the GOP replacement plan does nothing that its congressional supporters or President Donald Trump claim it will do.

It will not reduce costs. It will not provide affordable insurance to more Americans. It will not improve the quality of that coverage.

It will do precisely the opposite.

Don’t take our word on that. Take the word of the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Association, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Children’s Hospital Association, the March of Dimes and pretty much every other major medical group in the United States. They know a medical scam when they see one.

Trumpcare — sure, let’s call it that — is not about health care. It is about getting people re-elected.

Republican members of Congress now can run home to their districts and claim a win, finally, and that will put them in better shape for their next GOP primary election, where voters on the hard-core right call the shots.

In voting for Trumpcare, Republicans such as Rep. Randy Hultgren and Rep. Peter Roskam, both from suburban Chicago, may not have acted in the best interests and preferences of their sophisticatedly moderate Republican districts, but they don’t care about that. They care about beating back any Tea Party zealot who might take them on in a Republican primary – that’s where the threat to job security lies.

The health care plan approved by the House on Thursday afternoon is going nowhere, certainly not in the shape it’s in. The Senate will reject large parts of it. Conservatives in the Senate will say it does not go far enough in repealing Obamacare’s government intrusions on the market. Senate Republican moderates will say the House bill goes too hard on people who are sick or poor or older.

But we gained lasting clarity on Thursday. In the opinion of many members of Congress, you have no right to health care. It is a perk, like expensive tickets to a Cubs game, for those with money and means.

“If your baby is going to die, and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make,” the TV host Jimmy Kimmel said early this week, talking about his newborn son’s health scare. “I think that’s something now, whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, or something else, we all agree on that, right?”

Apparently not, Jimmy.

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