The original Republican health care plan, unveiled by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) a few weeks ago, landed with a thud. Independent estimates found the GOP proposal would strip 23 million Americans of their health coverage, and when Ryan told his members they could either take it or leave it, many House Republicans went with the latter.
So, Ryan tried again, this week unveiling an overhauled version of his plan, which failed to address any of the problems with the first version, and which the Congressional Budget Office found would take coverage from 24 million Americans
. The Speaker again told members they had to accept his bill, and GOP lawmakers again said they wouldn't.
And now, with their backs against the wall, Republican leaders are making even more changes
, managing to make a bad bill even worse in the hopes of avoiding a humiliating failure.
Eleventh hour changes to the bill were made Thursday night -- one more attempt to appease Republicans on both sides of the spectrum who weren't yet on board.
Those changes include a temporary extension of a 0.9 percent Medicare tax on people making more than $200,000.... The other change would move the Essential Health Benefits from being a federal requirement and allow states to determine which ones they want to include in health insurance plans such as maternity care, hospitalization, emergency care and mental health services.
I can appreciate the fact that "Essential Health Benefits" may sound like some wonky phrase that makes readers' eyes glaze over, but this is a critical element of the debate. Under the Affordable Care Act, private insurers are required to cover a series of health care treatments in every plan. The benefits include things like prescription drugs, maternity care, and various pediatric services, such as vision care for children.
To woo right-wing House members, Republicans have agreed to scrap the Essential Health Benefits from federal law. As Business Insider's Josh Barro explained
yesterday, "If the EHB rules were repealed, insurers could literally sell plans that do not pay for you to go to the doctor, or that don't pay for prescription drugs, or that don't cover pregnancy-related care. EHB repeal would also allow insurers to sell plans that do not cover substance-abuse treatment, a key issue for members of Congress from states hit by the opioid epidemic."
That's the new GOP plan, as of this morning. It includes all of the provisions most Americans already hate -- drastic Medicaid cuts, tax breaks for the wealthy, et al -- and then adds additional right-wing cruelty, on purpose. read more