Republicans Scramble for a Plan. And a Clue.

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Bad Hair, Health Care, Obama Administration, Republican Party

The original plan to kill Obamacare was “repeal and delay,” meaning Congress would pass a repeal bill that wouldn’t go into effect for at least a couple of years, thereby putting pressure on Democrats to help come up with a replacement. But that appears to be abandoned.

According to this article by Peter Sullivan at The Hill, the new plan is to go ahead and repeal Obamacare — there will be a repeal bill on Trump’s desk by February 20, they say — and then Trump will magically make all the rough transitional thingies go away by executive orders.

Seriously, that’s the plan.

The Feb. 20 target was put forward by incoming House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black (R-Tenn.), said Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), leaving a meeting with House Republicans and Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Wednesday.

Pence said Trump plans to take executive actions to start unwinding ObamaCare on day one, but did not get into specifics.

“It will be an orderly transition to something better … using executive authority to ensure it’s an orderly transition,” Pence told reporters. “We’re working now on a series of executive orders that will enable that orderly transition to take place even as Congress appropriately debates alternatives to and replacements for ObamaCare.”

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), an early Trump supporter, added that, “The president in his first day in office is going to do some level of executive orders related to ObamaCare.”

But Collins said there were “no details whatsoever” on the orders discussed in the meeting.

They have no idea what they’re going to do. They’re about to hit the Put Up or Shut Up Wall, and they’re flailing.

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) tweeted this right after that same meeting.

They don’t have a plan. How many years have they been hollering about replacing Obamacare? I’m not good with big numbers.

The February 20 deadline is not completely impossible. Dylan Matthews at Vox explains how congressional Republicans have already paved the way for doing away with most of the ACA through reconciliation, which will allow them to pass the repeal with a simple majority vote in the Senate. For budget reasons they would have to retain the ACA’s cuts to Medicare providers, but everything else could go immediately. See also Sarah Kliff.

Lauren Fox at Talking Points Memo has a different take. I’m not sure if she’s talking about the same meeting, but it seems not everyone is on board.

In a closed-door meeting in the House basement Wednesday with the whip team, a Republican rank-and-file member rose to convey his deep fear that Republicans were making a big mistake by repealing the Affordable Care Act without any concrete plan to replace it with.

According to one source in the room, the member rose and got the room’s attention.

“You lose all leverage once you repeal this thing. There will be people on the left who will never help you replace it and there will be people on the right who aren’t going to help you either,” the member said. “We will own this thing and there will be consequences.”

(Consequences? What is this thing, consequences? We Republicans do not know this word.)

The House isn’t the only place where members are sounding the alarm. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), whose own state expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, said earlier this week that Republicans will be making a mistake if they repeal the Affordable Care Act without replacing it at the same time.

The concern is that by moving rapidly to repeal President Obama’s signature accomplishment, Democrats may never work with Republicans on a replacement. That could leave Republicans with two options, either they could change Senate rules and jam through their replacement or they will never get one.

If they go the delay route, there are still those alien consequences things to deal with. Josh Marshall wrote,

The AMA, which has been rather comically pro-Trump to date, came out today and told Republicans that they shouldn’t repeal Obamacare without a clear replacement. Notably, even two of the most conservative health care economists at AEI, came out yesterday and said that ‘repeal and delay’ would be a disaster. The truth is that “repeal and delay” is the policy equivalent of taking off from JFK to Heathrow with 2,000 miles worth of gas and saying you’re going to figure it out en route. No one who knows anything about health care economics, even people who are staunch free marketeers and hate Obamacare, think that makes any sense.

Note that recent polls say only 26 percent of Americans want the ACA repealed.

This morning President-Elect Trump is out with an ambiguous and possibly meaningless (it’s sort of like Being There) series of tweets warning Republicans to “be careful” and make sure that Democrats “own” the “ObamaCare disaster.” …

… They simply have no idea what to do and now they’re being taunted by Trump not to blow and he doesn’t have any idea either. It would be funny if millions of people’s lives and well being weren’t on the line.

For the Democrats, the plan seems to be to let the Republicans hang themselves. CNN:

President Barack Obama delivered a mandate to Democrats on Wednesday: “Don’t rescue” Republicans on Obamacare.

Less than three weeks out from leaving the White House, Obama visited Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill with a mission to save his signature healthcare reform law as Republicans are moving quickly to unroll the Affordable Care Act.

In the closed-door meeting, the President urged fellow Democrats to not “rescue” Republicans by helping them pass replacement measures, according to sources in the room.

He also floated this idea: Start referring to the GOP’s new plan as “Trumpcare.”

The suggestion was a clear indication of the Democratic Party’s goal of turning the tables on Republicans, who are already facing pressure to quickly craft a replacement bill.

Regrettably, that may be the best plan.

Update: Apparently Trump (via the Mouth of Sauron, a.k.a. Kellyanne Conway) he can fix things so that everybody who has insurance will still have insurance, and that people with pre-existing conditions will still be covered. Heh.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Doug  •  Jan 4, 2017 @7:50 pm

    For years we’ve seen and used the line that “Republicans like to rule, but they don’t know how to govern.” Never will the distinction be more obvious then with health care in the next year. Repeal thru reconciliation, will leave the popular aspects of Obamaare intact – stay on your parent’s policy til age 26 and require coverage for pre-existing conditions. SO some of the mental midgets think this will cut taxes for the rich and keep the rubes happy at the same time. They’re convinced the 20 million who got coverage thru subsidies are all democrats with dark complexions.

    Under the scenario uunder consideration, premiums will go up – I predict a LOT. Insurance companies who have to cover people for expensive conditions and don’t have premiums from younger healthier customers will make up the difference. SO not only will 20 million lose insurance, but a lot of others will be priced out by the jump in cost.

    The democrats just need to stand back and let it happen – do nothing that allows the GOP to spread the blame. I suspect the Freedom Caucus has told Ryan that they won’t vote for incremental repeal – so Ryan hos to go full throttle into the disaster or DO NOTHING at all. And he can’t leave Obamacare in place for years when there will never be GOP consensus on replace.

  2. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 4, 2017 @8:03 pm

    Typical GOP:
    The right hand doesn’t know what the left one is doing, and vice versa; but the glad hand is shaking hands and making all sorts of promises; and the money hand is reaching out to donors and lobbyists greedily collecting cash (among other things) for the 2018 reelection season.

    No wonder they didn’t want any ethical restrictions – not that they let little things like ethics panels,hold them back from corruption, if that corruption was lucrative enough!

    And what could any ethics panel say about this new GOP-led Congress, except, “How can anyone look for ethics, when no Republican in this Congress knows what the fuck they’re talking about, let slone doing?…”

  3. pluky  •  Jan 4, 2017 @9:29 pm

    they can’t repeal without having some definitive replacement. i work for an insurance company, and was a medical pricing actuary for years. if there is one thing insurance companies’ detest it’s ill defined risk. they’ll bail from the exchanges as fast as they can.

  4. Doug  •  Jan 4, 2017 @10:54 pm

    I think the Freedom Caucus is calling the shots on Obamacare, both in ‘repeal’ and ‘replace’. There’s 241 republicans to 194 democrats in the US House. Of the 241 republicans, there are 33 members in the Freedom Caucus. Any time they are willing to break ranks with Ryan and vote with the democrats – they can deal Ryan a very public defeat.

    The Randian-leaning Freedom Caucus does not believe in the ‘General Welfare’ clause any more than I believe in the Tenth Amendment. They are opposed to public health care – the public may die and go to hell. It’s not politics – it’s practically religion. The Freedom Caucus will not compromise with the majority of their own party!

    So here’s the scenario! The Freedom Caucus has demanded complete repeal thru reconciliation NOW. Once defunded, Obamacare is dead – exactly what they want. In 6 months, the GOP comes up with ‘replace’ – the best bet is a plan that will offer some kind of subsidized medicine for some sliver of the population, but financed by taxes on the worker, not the rich. It doesn’t matter because the Freedom Caucus knows that without their support, it will never come up for a vote. The death of socialized medicine, they hope.

    We are looking at ‘repeal’ without ‘replace’ controlled and driven by only 33 members of the US House. Cute.

    The problem with the plan is that damn few conservatives want to die on the altar of Tea Party purity. Even fewer will happily sacrifice family members. For most voters, even conservatives, it’s about taking care of themselves and family – something the Freedom Caucus isn’t considering and the pragmatic bean counters in the republican party are sweating bullets over now.

  5. paradoctor  •  Jan 5, 2017 @2:37 am

    Hey Republicans, you want a replacement plan? One that’s simple, efficient, inexpensive and popular?
    Three words:
    Medicare For All.

  6. bernie  •  Jan 5, 2017 @8:10 am

    I am with Obama, sort of, on this one.  Step one: change the name.  It was really an adaptation of Romneycare anyway.  Like many government programs the official name was a lie or a spin (I suppose it depends on what affordable means).
    Now we shall have Rumpcare.  The poor will just have to take it in an unlubricated way in the rump.  I will let others come up with the official name.  I could suggest names like the Inferior Care for Peasants Act, but it just does not have the proper spin.  Way too honest.  Oh well, can’t do all the work for them. 

  7. RadioClash  •  Jan 5, 2017 @9:36 am

    They want to hurry up and repeal the part where they get their tax cut. After that, well who really cares right?

  8. Doug  •  Jan 5, 2017 @10:26 am

    Paradoctor – your words may be prophetic. If the GOP sends the medical insurance industry into a tailspin – and access to health care becomes a crisis for all voters, the post-Trump response might be single payer to avoid the complications and gaps.

  9. paradoctor  •  Jan 5, 2017 @1:38 pm

    Doug: prophesy is a sore point with me. You see, awhiles back I made a joke at Apollo’s expense, and the god of prophesy retaliated with a joke at my expense; namely, involuntary prophesy. I’d snark some silly jest, and the damn thing comes true. Since the gift/curse is involuntary, I can’t control it, or use it for personal gain.

    So here’s my snark, take it for what it’s worth: Trump will go all in for Medicare For All, and eventually even the Guaranteed Income; but also double down on racism and sexism. The D’s will swallow the racism for the Medicare, and the R’s will swallow the Medicare for the racism.

  10. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 5, 2017 @2:32 pm

    How about the Republicans just rebranding and renaming – like Coke did with New Coke (only, let’s hope it’s less of a disaster) – and just change some minor verbiage, and change it from Obamacare to tt-RUMPcare?

    The peasants, won’t who don’t know shit from Shinola, will love that their new health care is t-RUMP-branded, and not “named” after that Kenyan SocialiFasciCommuniAtheiHeatheMuslim Usurper!

  11. Swami  •  Jan 5, 2017 @3:29 pm

    They can always name it the Yoyo -care. You’re on your own! That’s what Sen. Tom Cotton is advocating.. Tax credits and vouchers..Leave the intricacies of policy coverage to the free market. Everybody knows that the insurance industry is always going to act in the best interests of the consumer.

  12. Doug  •  Jan 5, 2017 @7:02 pm

    Gulag – rebranding the basic components of Obamacare is what the medical industry including insurance companies was hoping for. At the risk of saying it again, the Freedom Caucus will not allow anything except the invisible middle finger – no that’s supposed to be hand of the free market. Health care is a commodity, much like aluminum foil, they think, and everyone has the right to buy the brand or thickness they like – or none at all if they can’t afford it or don’t want it. Rebranding means some form of government controls, subsidies and people with dark complexions visiting the doctors that white people use.

    The freedom caucus knows they hold the whip hand because they can publicly defeat any measure that Ryan proposes by voting with democrats and leaving Obamacare completely intact. They WILL do this, I think, if Ryan doesn’t completely and immediately defund thru reconciliation. So I’m predicting we will enter territory that history will marvel at with statements like, “Nobody could be that stupid!” and we will answer, “Yes, they were.”

    Ultimately if the Tea Party is a stupid and suicidal as I predict, the GOP might – I said *might* consider redemption through compromise – seriously inviting democrats to participate in crafting a health care bill acceptable to enough democrats so they could overcome the Freedom Caucus. I don’t think we’re talking about 20 million poor people falling off the rolls as a result of the repeal – I think we’re looking at the health care model in the US, which is built around the insurance model, completely unraveling.

  13. goatherd  •  Jan 7, 2017 @9:15 am

    If I recall correctly, CUNDgulag was collecting clever names for our future dear leader.

    I ran into “Boss Tweet” at Alicublog the other day. I don’t know if that was on the list.

  14. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 7, 2017 @11:36 am

    goatherd,
    T’weren’t me doin’ the collectin’.
    It was someone else, a few weeks/months ago.

    But I do LOVE that Boss Tweet line – even if it’s an insult to a corrupt politician, who, though he and his cronies had their hands in the till every government project they ok’d, they still accomplished a HELL OF A LOT!
    Unlike the modern GOP, which just steals for the sake of stealing.

  15. aj  •  Jan 7, 2017 @5:50 pm

    The Repugs will own it all. And the medical professions need to realize that when this happens, they will either be giving free care to millions who cannot pay or they will be out of a job. No republican plan will keep the health care system in business.
    Hospitals will close period.



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