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Donald Trump really, really, reaaaallly wants to re-fight healthcare for the 2020 election, because he apparently thinks it was such a winning issue for Republicans in 2018. That's why he's very hot on the idea of having the courts throw out Obamacare altogether, eliminating healthcare for 20 million people, and not incidentally leaving about half of Americans subject to losing their coverage for preexisting conditions. Republicans, Trump announced Wednesday, will now become "the party of healthcare," just as soon as they come up with a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, or maybe just trash it and hope everyone loves them for it. It worked with firing James Comey right? Democrats, on the other hand, are are looking forward both to shoring up Obamacare -- since that did a pretty good job of winning the House in 2018 -- and then working toward some form of actual Medicare for All, because really, it's not a choice between those two, silly.


There's no telling what exactly Donald Trump thinks he wants from a new effort on healthcare, or how he thinks Republicans can deliver it. It's just another version of his 2016 bullshit: Promise to replace Obamacare with "something terrific," but when anyone asks for specifics, insist the details don't matter. Literally, the plan is that there's NO PLAN.

The White House has no proposal in the works, according to administration officials, but Trump wants Republicans to pass a bill before his reelection effort that would do what Obamacare does — provide coverage to millions of Americans.

In phone calls with some Republican lawmakers, Trump did at least say what he wants: A number of the features already in Obamacare, only with it not being Obamacare, as Sen John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) explained.

"He wants to preserve people being able to get their insurance through work . . . and focused on people with preexisting conditions," Barrasso said. "He is 100 percent committed to ensuring that people with preexisting conditions get covered, and I understand that . . . and the president is also focused on lowering the cost of drugs."

Unfortunately for Trump, no Republicans in Congress actually have a plan to do that. Maybe some bits of it, though. How about they just say "bipartisan" a whole bunch? That could at least sound like a plan!

"We're going to be involved in health but most of it is going to be very, very bipartisan, unlike the issue you're bringing up [the court case to throw out the ACA -- Dok], which would not be very bipartisan," said Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the leader of the Senate Finance Committee. [...]

Indeed, Republican senators and GOP aides said not to expect a sweeping new Republican plan in the months ahead, and said that aside from the narrower policy pushes, party leadership will focus on their longstanding message that Obamacare has "failed" and that Democrats' "Medicare for All" proposals pose a threat to the current system.

If Trump wants something that would fully replace the ACA, said lawmakers who spoke to Politico, well then maybe he could tell them what that plan would be. One unnamed Republican senator said, "We need a plan, and right now we don't have one." So in other words, just like since Obamacare passed in 2010. GOT IT.

Democrats, in the meantime, are running on a number of options for getting to a full single-payer plan, while also working right now to protect the ACA from Trump's multiple attempts to weaken it. Tuesday, House Dems introduced a number of measures aimed at strengthening Obamacare, including improving the tax credits that help keep premiums affordable and raising the income limits for who would be eligible for those premium subsidies.

Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal said families with an income of up to $96,000 per year would qualify for subsidies, while individuals making up to $46,000 would qualify.

In addition, another bill would reverse one of the ideas Trump rolled out last year with the aim of undermining the individual marketplace. Shortly before the election, Trump's HHS issued new rules allowing "short term" insurance plans that could re-impose penalties on people with preexisting conditions and sell crappy insurance that didn't necessarily cover all health conditions. This new bill would close that loophole, because junk insurance isn't really insurance.

Other provisions in the effort to strengthen Obamacare would

fund a reinsurance program to help cover high-cost patients, as well as programs to help people sign up for insurance coverage and for outreach, both of which the Trump administration has scaled back since taking office.

So with Republicans focused on all sorts of schemes to take people's health insurance away, Democrats are fighting to protect Obamacare. And yes, that's coming from a bunch of those wild-eyed progressives who want to move toward single payer, too, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders, even. Here's AOC:

"I'm happy to support any provision that strengthens the ACA and plug some of the gaps that we're seeing, particularly as it's under assault by the president [...] I think it's part of a longer-term vision, at least for me, towards guaranteeing ― truly guaranteeing ― health care for all Americans."

Ocasio-Cortez said she understood prioritizing fixes to the Affordable Care Act. "Because we have a Republican Senate, a Republican president, and so the things that we have the ability to pass right now are pretty narrow."

Sanders was also clear: Yeah, we need to both protect the ACA and then build toward single payer, and get outta here with your false choice between one or the other.

And while Trump was busy insisting that he would -- someday -- make Republicans the REAL party of healthcare, Tucker Carlson decided that Nancy Pelosi had forced CNN to start covering healthcare as a distraction from the complete collapse of Russiagate!!!!

Yeah, where would anyone get the idea that Democrats ever thought healthcare was a thing? Couldn't have anything to do with the Trump administration's announcement Monday that 20 million Americans will be shit outta luck on that. Nah. Shame on those dishonest Democrats for scaring Americans with a thing Trump actually wants to do.

[HuffPo / Politico / Roll Call / WaPo / Reuters]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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