Med­i­cal care rests on law­mak­ers

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

IT IS tempt­ing to think that the Repub­li­can health­care pro­posal, which would do so much dam­age to so many Amer­i­cans, will col­lapse in the Se­nate, as con­ser­va­tives and cen­trists alike have come out against it. But that would be pre­ma­ture. Af­ter all, House lead­ers man­aged to cob­ble to­gether a nar­row ma­jor­ity for their bill af­ter sim­i­lar protests in that cham­ber.

At least some of the Se­nate op­po­si­tion to Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell’s open­ing bid in the health­care wars is mere po­lit­i­cal theatre.

Far-right sen­a­tors who are protest­ing that the bill does not do enough to get rid of the dreaded Af­ford­able Care Act, or Oba­macare, are al­most cer­tainly pos­tur­ing.

These law­mak­ers want to be seen as mak­ing the bill more ex­treme to bur­nish their con­ser­va­tive bona fides.

But they don’t want to be blamed for block­ing leg­is­la­tion that by any ob­jec­tive analysis achieves the Repub­li­can goal of de­stroy­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act and more.

It would greatly weaken Med­i­caid, a pro­gramme that many in the party have long de­spised. And it would leave more peo­ple unin­sured than if Congress re­pealed Oba­macare with­out putting any­thing in its place, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent analysis by the Ur­ban In­sti­tute.

The Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice es­ti­mates that the leg­is­la­tion will take health in­sur­ance away from 22 mil­lion peo­ple by 2026, in­clud­ing 15 mil­lion who will be kicked off Med­i­caid.

This all-out ef­fort to sway votes is all the more shame­ful given how un­pop­u­lar the bill is with Amer­i­cans.

Just 17% of the coun­try ap­proves of the leg­is­la­tion, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

By con­trast, about 63% say Congress should ei­ther leave the Af­ford­able Care Act un­touched or change it so that it does more.

Some sen­a­tors are surely eager to make a deal and will ac­cept what­ever McCon­nell of­fers them.

But con­sci­en­tious law­mak­ers who care about the health­care of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans should know that tin­ker­ing around the edges will not make this bill any less dread­ful or any more de­serv­ing of their vote. – The New York Times

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