Well, well, well, looks like the House Republicans got their act together after all, and passed the American Health Care Act by a slim margin, 217-213. This effort would have been considered the third or fourth try, but on the prior occasions, Speaker Paul Ryan yanked the legislation before it could come to the floor, hoping to avoid embarrassment. It repeals the American Care Act, aka Obamacare, which passed in 2010 by almost the same margin, 220-215. Incidentally, a lot of Republican legislators appear not to have even read it.
Every California Republican voted for the legislation, and every California Democrat voted against it. (Every Democrat nationwide voted against it, in fact.) However, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by such huge margins in California that half the state’s GOP delegation represent districts that Clinton carried. Given the unpopularity of the legislation and the fact that the incumbent party typically loses marginal seats in non-presidential-year elections, these seven Representatives — all of whom are from Southern California or the Central Valley — might have signed their own political death warrants.
Darrell Issa (Vista)
David Valadao (Hanford)
Steve Knight (Palmdale)
Ed Royce (Fullerton)
Jeff Denham (Turlock)
Mimi Walters (Laguna Niguel)
Dana Rohrabacher (Costa Mesa)
Darrell Issa cast the 216th vote for AHCA, putting it over the top
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) May 4, 2017
Incidentally, the AHCA does the following five fairly appalling things:
1. It guts protection for people with pre-existing conditions.
2. It slashes Medicaid by $800 billion, and defunds Planned Parenthood.
3. It strips 24 million Americans of their health coverage.
4. It’s essentially a humongous wealth transfer from working people to the wealthy. The entire $346 billion in tax cuts goes to individuals earning more than $200,000 or couples earning more than $250,000. If you earn less, you get nothing.
5. It even jeopardizes people who get insurance through work, by creating a race to the bottom among insurance companies. Because states can define what “essential benefits are,” and the AHCA lets companies pick which states’ standards they can use, your company can cut costs by shopping around for skimpier plans with less coverage.
Live look at the House health care bill: pic.twitter.com/C3eKBFXBSc
— Senator Angus King (@SenAngusKing) May 4, 2017
Again, the bill passed by a mere four votes, and seven yeses came from Californian Republicans who voted against their constituents. If you’re angry, you know whose offices to register your displeasure with.
You’d think Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would want his chamber to vote on it as soon as possible, but surprisingly, he’s opted to wait until the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) rates the legislation to see what its costs and full effects are. (The House voted before that, to give any waffling Republicans cover.) This implies that McConnell fears he doesn’t have the votes. Republicans effectively control the Senate 52-48, so they can only afford two defections (in which case, Vice President Mike Pence will cast the tie-breaking vote).
But at least three GOP senators — Susan Collins of Maine, Dean Heller of Nevada, and Rob Portman of Ohio — are on record saying they can’t support it in its current form. There’s a reason the Senate is called the “place where legislation goes to die.” So there’s still a chance at stopping it, or at the very least, watering down its provisions.
Your turn, California. Universal health care now, please.