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GOP'S Secret Healthcare Plan Is That It Has No Healthcare Plan
But they're really working hard on it, you bet!
Now that Donald Trump has decided we all have to panic over the border again, he's not quite so shouty about making the GOP the "party of great healthcare," because that was, after all, last week. He's still harping on it on Twitter today, so that at least is some indication of his laserlike focus on ... hey, did you see that "Fox & Friends" story about sharks collecting food stamps? Is that what they said? OUTRAGEOUS!
Even so, Trump said a thing, and that means the White House and Republicans are now scrambling to act like they have any idea what he meant. So it was time for Republican Healthcare chat on the Sunday shows and in the wingnut media. Of course, if Trump gets his new wish and the federal courts DO throw out every last bit of Obamacare, the GOP doesn't have a Plan B. Or maybe the Washington Examiner isn't lying for once and somebody has a Plan B.
Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was asked by ABC News this weekend whether he could "guarantee" to the American people that nobody would lose their healthcare coverage. Did he tell the truth and admit that some 20 million people would lose coverage if we went back to the bad old days before Medicaid expansion and protections for people with preexisting conditions? Oh heck no! He insisted that every single GOP healthcare proposal of the Trump era protected preexisting conditions, which of course they haven't at all -- most would require that insurers sell policies to anyone, but would allow huge rate hikes or denial of coverage for those specific conditions. You'd have "insurance" that wouldn't actually cover your preexisting condition.
Florida Man Rick Scott, one of Trump's designated Healthcare Ideas Guys, went on CBS's "Face the Nation" to not answer questions about what the GOP's very sensational healthcare plan would look like, and he explained that while the Democrats are very very bad, the Republicans are very very good, and would focus on reducing healthcare costs, because lower costs are good! Asked for specifics, he said he was focused on driving down costs. Oh, and protecting folks with preexisting conditions, but remember that that does not mean anything real. But mostly keeping costs down and not doing Medicare for All, which would kill you.
Not surprisingly, Scott remained very slippery on what a GOP plan would entail, largely because there's no plan. We believe we have mentioned that! Scottdidintroduce a bill last week aimed at containing the costs of prescription drugs, but that's a far cry from a wholesale reform of the healthcare system. It even has a sort of intriguing idea; the bill would
mandate that drug companies can't charge Americans more for prescription drugs than they charge "in other industrialized nations like Great Britain, Canada and Germany.
"I know there will be critics that say this is too much government interference in the free market," Scott said. "I am a strong believer in free-market capitalism. I ran one of the largest health care companies in the world. But Americans, particularly our seniors, are facing a crisis of rising drug costs, and we can't wait any longer to act."
Of course, the details would matter a lot there -- like, is he talking limiting drugs to the average price elsewhere in the world, or the highest price a pharma company can get away with somewhere else? The bill would also require insurers to inform every patient of the total costs they'd pay for prescriptions before each year's open enrollment period, so consumers can shop around -- again, a nice idea, but that's hardly a terrific plan to replace Obamacare.
Also too? Let us never forget Rick Scott was CEO of the Columbia/HCA hospital chain when it was guilty of US America's then-biggest Medicare fraud case to date in 1997, which you may want to keep in mind forever with this guy. But it's OK, because Scott wasn't personally charged with a crime, making him totally exonerated, no collusion, that is the law.
And then there's this Washington Examiner story, "White House working on secret healthcare plan with three conservative think tanks," which sure sounds impressive! Lookie, Team Trump finally learned its lesson, no running off semipenised here! Except the reality is considerably less firm than the phrase "secret plan" implies.
While it is not clear how far along the process is, work on a proposal has been going on for months. The effort appears to belie criticism that Trump's decision to restart the debate on healthcare, an issue Democrats used to their advantage in the 2018 midterms, was an error committed without forethought.
But the overall impression given in the piece is that Trump administration people have been asking the think tanks -- the Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institute, and the (Koch-funded) Mercatus Center -- to do some thinking, and not much more. Presumably the Mercatus Center hasn't been asked for a copy of its study finding Medicare for All would save trillions of dollars compared to our current hodgepodge of health systems.
At this point, there's not so much a plan as a few half-baked ideas that might become a plan if the courts yank the rug out from under Obamacare and the Trumpers need to try passing something. How's this for specific?
Policy leaders at several conservative think tanks confirmed to the Examiner that a healthcare plan is indeed the works. They said a proposal would take concepts from the Graham-Cassidy bill [...] and the Health Care Choices proposal, which was signed by many conservative policy leaders, including the Heritage Foundation and former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn.
Oh boy! CONCEPTS! Graham-Cassidy! Convert all federal healthcare spending into ever-shrinking block grants to the states! And let some disabled people relying on Medicaid die, because those people are EXPENSIVE. And you just know that any plan endorsed by Rick Santorum just has to be great. Or maybe parts of it are. Oh, there's very much a plan, you bet. It's secret, though. Even the "conservative policy analyst" the Examiner used as a source acknowledged there's no plan, just some ideas that will need to be put together. By top minds, no doubt.
In conclusion, this is just going to be the greatest healthcare plan ever, once it's written, like in the 12 hours immediately following a Supreme Court decision on Obamacare sometime next year, maybe a few weeks before the election. Rest easy, America, you might be fine.