Maybe I should have titled this post Kill Bill 2. Just when you thought the GOP healthcare bill was dead, it has begun to exhale sulfurous vapors again, its glowing red eyes blinking open, its sharp claws twitching in anticipation of wreaking more mischief. It’s as scary as any horror story by Stephen King.
Despite essentially every healthcare organization and the majority of the population coming out against it, the House birthed a malformed Repeal and Replace bill which, you have heard many times, would increase the number of uninsured by 22 million, take away protections for pre-existing conditions, and worse. After behind-closed-doors tinkering in the Senate, Repeal and Replace emerged more fully developed but equally grotesque. It would cause 15 million people to lose coverage within a year, and again, 22 million by 2026, as well as water down the quality of health coverage. When four Republican senators jumped sides and put any hope of passing this horrible bill out of reach, the relieved majority of citizens (remember them?) in this country celebrated. The bill had been killed- or so we thought.
But then President Trump’s response was to “let Obamacare fail… I won’t own it,” without any regard to the cost to his citizens- he’s only concerned about a “win” for himself, and has been actively sabotaging Obamacare for months. That would leave no healthcare plan, but who cares? He, the President, won’t own it, and a win’s a win, never mind where the buck stops. In a strikingly similar vein, Sen. McConnell- backed by Trump, of course- plotted a move to Repeal And Not Replace, even though 32 million people would be left out in the cold. So once again, the GOP healthcare agenda stirred ominously back to life. Do any of these elected officials ever consider the people who voted them in?
Then came another bright spot in the GOP (following Sen. Collins): when Sen. Capito announced that she had “not come to Washington to hurt people,” I thought that would surely be a stake driven into the heart of the beast. Congress would come to its senses (unless they had come to Washington to hurt people… ) And when 50% of those polled said they were in favor of Obamacare, versus 24% for the GOP plan, I was sure the struggle was finally over. But no, no, here it comes again, still staggering among the undead: McConnell wants to open floor debate on healthcare next week, in the faint hope that the GOP bill can somehow be rewritten on the fly- perhaps garnering just enough votes to squeak by? Remember, repeal efforts have been going on for seven years, and yet the GOP doesn’t have a realistic plan to offer. This healthcare zombie won’t go away, no matter how badly scared the people get: already six long months into the Trump Administration, it needs a win at any cost!
If the GOP gets its way, I might have to adjust my sci-fi novel Fourth World: the average life expectancy in 2197, I wrote, is 107. But now I might dial that down; it seems that only GOP healthcare bills live that long!