Thursday, July 13, 2017

Table Russia. Focus On Healthcare

Image result for pax on both houses, trumpcare cartoons

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Table Russia. Focus On Healthcare
David Leonhardt

David Leonhardt

Op-Ed Columnist
Time for an update on the Senate’s health bill, and it’s not an encouraging one.
As I’ve feared, the Senate may try to repeat a version of the House’s “Upton strategy,” in which it makes modest, last-minute tweaks and pretends those tweaks fix the bill’s enormous problems.
In the House, an amendment from Fred Upton, a Michigan congressman, was the vehicle for doing so. In the Senate, changes to an amendment from Ted Cruz could be.
“As with the Upton Amendment in the House, these changes would do little or nothing to mitigate the harm the bill would cause,” Jacob Leibenluft, a former Obama administration official now at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, wrote to me.
“But Senate leadership would portray them as addressing concerns from both moderates and the right — without giving CBO (or the public) time to debunk their efficacy,” Leibenluft added.
The Cruz amendment would effectively remove insurance protections for sick people, hurting many middle-income people between the ages of 50 and 65. It would make a bad bill even worse. Yet fixing some of the Cruz amendment’s problems wouldn’t come close to fixing the overall bill.
The next few days seem crucial. Senate Republicans are meeting today and plan to unveil their new bill. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, has vowed to vote on a motion to proceed next week.
There is a risk that the Russia news, important though it is, will keep people from paying attention to what’s going on in the Senate. Millions of Americans’ access to decent health care is at stake.
If you want more details, the Twitter feeds of Topher Spiro and Andy Slavitt are informative and timely. So is the feed of Dr. Esther Choo, one of the forces behind the doctors’ video I described in a previous newsletter.
Today’s lead piece from The Times editorial board also addresses health care.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has two helpful explainers. One, by Aviva Aron-Dine and Leibenluft, lays out why keeping some of Obamacare’s tax increases isn’t as big of a deal as it may seem. “Thus far,” they write, “none of the specific reported changes to the Senate health bill would alter its core structure or meaningfully reduce the severe harm it would do.”
The other analysis, by Sarah Lueck, details the many problems with the Cruz amendment. Margot Sanger-Katz of The Times has also analyzed Cruz’s plan, explaining his policy rationale.
The full Opinion report from The Times follows, including Trump advisers H. R. McMaster and Gary Cohn on last week’s Group of 20 economic summit.

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