In a rare moment of truth-telling, President Donald Trump dubbed as “mean” the House healthcare plan whose passage he had celebrated in a Rose Garden ceremony in the company of gloating Republican leaders.
Having studied the untrustworthy and vain president for months now, it’s not a stretch to speculate that when Trump realized that the American Healthcare Act — declared harmful to some 23 million Americans by a wide range of experts — would bear his name for posterity, “Trumpcare,” he tried to get ahead of the fallout. His popular culture standing being something this former reality star and Tweeter-in-Chief obsesses about an inordinate amount of time, Trump urged the Senate to do better, come closer to his campaign promises to out-perform Obamacare.
No such thing has happened. In fact, the Senate legislation, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, is a cruel joke on Americans.
Trump promised healthcare coverage that would be better and cheaper than Obamacare with lower premiums and deductibles. He promised to cover people with existing conditions and to make no cuts to Medicaid. But none of that has come to pass — and still, Trump is calling for a speedy passage by the Senate, which came up with its version in secrecy.
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Trumpcare has never been closer to reality, but it’s not what he promised. Don’t take my word for it, but the findings of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, which reported that 22 million Americans would lose coverage under the Senate plan by 2026 versus what would happen under the current Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
Worst yet are the cuts to Medicaid, so essential to the elderly and the poor, steep and devastating to the 15 million people who wouldn’t be able to access this benefit in the coming decade.
The heartbreaking testimony of people from around the country who would be devastated if they lost their healthcare coverage fell on deaf senators’ ears, including that of Miami’s Marco Rubio, dubbed in a Miami Herald headline "The Trump Whisperer” because Rubio, once a foe, now has the president’s attention on Cuba and Latin America.
Rubio hasn’t voiced any major reservations about the Senate healthcare bill, but is staging some of his signature back-and-forth political theater with Florida Republicans to study impact in Florida, as if it wasn’t obvious.
Despite some shortcomings and the stumbling blocks Obamacare faced in Florida — most of all, a Republican governor and a Republican-dominant Legislature that refused to accept federal dollars to expand Medicaid and were dead set on making Obamacare fail — 1.7 million eligible Floridians were able to access Medicaid coverage.
In fact, Florida leads the nation in Obamacare enrollment with 1.3 million people insured. That’s 3 million people in Florida alone adversely affected by the Senate plan. What’s there to study, senator?
“Rubio, do your job!” clamored a larger than usual crowd gathered Monday in front of Rubio’s office across from the Trump National Doral.
They shouldn’t be dismissed as Obama supporters. They’re people whose lives or whose loved ones’ lives depend on healthcare being accessible to all not just to those blessed with the money or the job subsidy to afford costly private insurance.
And they’re hardly alone. The Center for American Progress estimated that the lack of accessibility to healthcare would mean 217,000 additional deaths over the next decade. And the group Patriotic Millionaires sent a statement following the budget office scoring of the Senate plan headlined: “Don’t kill for my tax cut.”
President Trump and Republicans can obfuscate the truth. But if the Senate bill becomes the law of the land, Trumpcare will be President Trump’s and the GOP’s legacy. There’s no separating the two. No longer will the Republican Party be able to conveniently distance themselves from their man.
They will all be as close as The Trump Whisperer.