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Republicans' health care plan has already run out of friends

Republicans have a tough challenge: convince Americans that when it comes to health care, ignore doctors, nurses, insurers and hospital administrators.
Empty hospital emergency room. (Stock photo by  DreamPictures/Getty Images)
Empty hospital emergency room.
Yesterday afternoon, the American Nurses Association condemned the House Republicans' health care plan, explaining that the American Health Care Act "threatens health care affordability, access, and delivery for individuals across the nation."The ANA, representing over 3.6 million nurses, is hardly the only major stakeholder drawing this conclusion. The list of organizations that have come out against the Republican plan has grown quite quickly, and includes the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, AARP, the American Cancer Society, and the American Psychiatric Association, among others.Even America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the powerhouse trade association for private insurers, isn't happy.At least some on Capitol Hill, however, have embraced an amazing new phrase to dismiss critics of their ridiculous plan from throughout the system.

Opposition to the GOP bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act continued to emerge on Wednesday -- the bill's second day in the public eye -- with statements condemning the bill from groups representing doctors, nurses, hospitals, and the elderly.Mobbed by reporters as he emerged from casting an afternoon vote, the bill's author Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) brushed off the latest round of criticism, saying the thousands of hospitals and hundreds of thousands of doctors are part of a "medical industrial complex" that opposes major reforms to Medicaid.

If this is the best line Republicans can come up with, they're in big trouble.In general, GOP officials -- in Congress and in Donald Trump's White House -- spend a fair amount of energy encouraging Americans not to trust experts and authorities. The public, the argument goes, should listen to Republicans, not scientists, historians, and journalists. The president, in particular, is eager to tell the electorate to also look askance at judges, pollsters, statisticians, and intelligence agencies.And now with the debate over "Trumpcare" under way, the circle of sources deemed untrustworthy by Republicans has grown even larger, to include doctors, nurses, seniors' advocates, hospital administrators, and insurers.We are, evidently, supposed to believe Paul Ryan, Donald Trump, GOP officials, and no one else. I'm skeptical this will work out well.As we talked about yesterday, it didn't have to go this way. Democrats invested considerable time and energy during the Affordable Care Act's development to cultivate support from key stakeholders. The House Speaker and Republican leaders didn't. It's why "Obamacare" enjoyed considerable institutional backing, while "Trumpcare" finds itself running out of friends.