U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan speaks during his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept.22, 2016. 
Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Republican health plan at the end of a trail of broken promises

Updated
Donald Trump was never specific about the substantive details of his health care plan, but he wasn’t shy about telling Americans exactly what his policy would do and what the system would look like once it was in place.

“We’re going to have insurance for everybody,” he vowed. The Republican added that once the Affordable Care Act is replaced with his plan, we’d see lower premiums, “much lower” deductibles, and a system in which all Americans are “beautifully covered.”

This wasn’t just campaign palaver, ad-libbed during a rally, from a candidate pleading for support from unsuspecting voters. Rather, these were commitments Trump made after he’d won the presidential election.

The president then proceeded to break his word without explanation, throwing his support behind congressional Republicans’ American Health Care Act, which would take coverage from tens of millions of people, raise premiums, and raise deductibles. How does Trump explain his failure to follow through on his commitments? So far, he hasn’t even tried to justify the shift.

But on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the congressional Republicans find themselves in the exact same position. When House GOP leaders unveiled their health plan last month, they also created a website to answer the public’s questions. As of this morning, it still says the Republican proposal “prohibits health insurers from denying coverage or charging more money to patients based on pre-existing conditions,” which is the opposite of what the latest iteration of their legislation does. The Q&A portion adds:
Are you repealing patient protections, including for people with pre-existing conditions?

No. Americans should never be denied coverage or charged more because of a pre-existing condition. […]

Won’t millions of Americans lose their health insurance because of your plan?

No. We are working to give all Americans peace of mind about their health care.
This is the exact opposite of the truth. Under the latest version of the Republican plan, protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions would be gutted, and tens of millions of people would lose their health coverage.

This isn’t even a point of contention anymore: what House GOP leaders promised and what they’re offering are plainly at odds. These Republicans made commitments – in writing – that they’re now choosing not to keep.

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes last night asked Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), a critic of his party’s proposal, about this. The New Jersey Republican, after some prodding, conceded that the GOP bill isn’t “consistent” with the party’s promises.

And while the acknowledgement was welcome, there’s no broader explanation from House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) or his colleagues about why they’ve chosen to break their word. We, of course, know the answer: many GOP lawmakers concluded that the original American Health Care Act simply wasn’t right-wing enough, so they demanded regressive changes. Party leaders caved to those demands in a rather pathetic display, abandoning their promises to the public in the process.

But what we haven’t heard is Ryan or other Republican leaders admit this out loud. They’re ready, and arguably eager, to break their commitments, but they’re reluctant to talk about it.

Health Care and House Republicans

Republican health plan at the end of a trail of broken promises

Updated