May 4, 2017

3 landmines in the GOP's epic health care gamble

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

House Republicans — promising that they really, really have the votes this time — plan to rush into a health-reform vote this afternoon without waiting for a Congressional Budget Office estimate of how the updated bill will affect estimates of the costs and impact.

The WashPost warns: "[I]ndependent analysts remained skeptical that the new proposal would fully address the needs of at-risk patients who receive coverage guarantees under the Affordable Care Act."

With the House in recess next week, neither end of Pennsylvania Avenue wants to take a chance on delaying the vote, which would give President Trump his first big legislative victory. The Journal says a win would "redeem" Ryan, and The Times says it'd be "redemption for both Mr. Ryan and Mr. Trump."

But plunging ahead carries its own risks — short- and long-term:

  • Potential landmine 1: House GOP is voting on a bill not knowing how many people it covers and how much it costs. Maybe the numbers will come back fine — but imagine if they don't.
  • Potential landmine 2: Tampering with protections on preexisting conditions is the new "third rail of politics." Think about how easy it will be for Democrats to argue this bill erodes protections for your mom with cancer or friend with multiple sclerosis.
  • Potential landmine 3: Republicans are playing with a fire they have seen burn fatally before. Obama lost a Democratic-ruled Congress by jamming through a complex and easily demagogued health-care law during his first two years in office. Now Trump, with his own full control of Congress, is doing the same thing.

Sound smart: Do you really think Republicans would suffer in any way, shape or form from waiting a few days to read the bill and find out CBO's cost and coverage numbers?

Joe Scarborough on "Morning Joe" this morning, on the risk to members: "This vote hangs around them forever. ... They can't just give this to someone to get a quick headline. ... They're cobbling a bill together. They had six, seven years to do this. They're not ready yet."

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