Fate of health care bill: not cruel enough

Thanks in part to the investigations, charges, and countercharges, Donald Trump’s bargaining posture on the Hill has dwindled to nothing such that today’s vote on killing millions of Americans by depriving them of health care might be doomed.

Moderate Republicans huddled with Speaker Paul Ryan and House leaders for nearly two hours Wednesday night but emerged without consensus. Immediately after exiting the meeting, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), leader of the House’s moderate Tuesday Group, panned the bill, known as the American Health Care Act.

“After careful deliberation, I cannot support the bill and will oppose it,” Dent said in a statement upon leaving the meeting. “I believe this bill, in its current form, will lead to the loss of coverage and make insurance unaffordable for too many Americans, particularly for low-to-moderate income and older individuals.”

The growing rebellion of moderate members comes as House leaders spent the day attempting to placate their hardline conservative Freedom Caucus, a group of three-dozen arch-conservatives that had been threatening to tank the bill. To bring them on board, House leaders — at the behest of the White House — offered to gut minimum health insurance requirements imposed by Obamacare.

I’m glad to my congressman Carlos Curbelo and former congressperson Ileana Ros-Lehtinen opposed to the bill in any form. Ros-Lehtinen, who replaced the venerable Claude Pepper in 1989 and whose district encompasses some of the oldest constituents in the country, knows that support would be committing suicide.

But other legislators don’t have suicide in mind – it’s murder. Because the Freedom Caucus comprises men and women who should run charnel houses and mink processing plants instead of serving constituents, these people want a crueler bill:

After a day of ferrying between the Capitol and the White House, conservatives secured a commitment from House leaders to consider a proposal that would eliminate Obamacare’s “essential health benefits” — a set of regulations that requires insurers to cover a broad array of benefits. Conservatives have argued that these requirements drove up the cost of health insurance and restricted consumer choice.

Yet after House leaders signaled they were open to that measure, Freedom Caucus members pushed for even more: a repeal of all the Obamacare regulations, including protections for people with pre-existing conditions — a non-starter with most Republican lawmakers.

Keep up the pressure. Call your legislators.

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