The epic fail, known as the American Care Act, which the GOP drafted in secret, then tried to rush past lawmakers before the July 4th break, is the latest in a series of Trump mishaps since he took office in January. The badly written bill, which would devastate poor, elderly and low income Americans, failed to get enough Senate support, even from Republicans. Conservatives say the attempt at replacing Obamacare didn’t go far enough.
Meanwhile, the president threw himself a fundraiser for re-election. Really? Five months on the job, and no major legislation to show for (with the exception of one Supreme Court confirmation). CNN anchor Anderson Cooper said it was “smart” for Trump to show confidence in this way. I say it was even smarter for him to find a way to enrich himself before he gets run out of office. The fundraiser was held at a Trump Hotel in D.C. But the building that he is leasing actually belongs to the government.
I don’t know if there’s a law against holding a fundraiser at your own for-profit hotel while being president, but pundits are already questioning it. At press time, there was no way to find out because the White House shut the media out completely. This was after first inviting them, then limiting coverage to one camera, and finally banning reporters altogether.
But I digress…Back to health care.
In L.A. County, officials have warned of the dire impact the Senate healthcare bill could have. The county is home to one out of every 20 of the nation’s Medicaid recipients.
The plan would cut hundreds of billions of dollars in funding over the next decade from the Medicaid program—known as Medi-Cal in California. Medicaid coverage is currently used by 75 million low-income Americans. Experts say states would likely be forced to reduce the number of people in their Medicaid programs or offer fewer benefits. In California, about 13.5 people—or every one out of three people—get their healthcare through Medicaid. In L.A. County, that number is closer to 40%.
The Senate’s proposal to drastically reduce Medicaid expansion would affect those who have had coverage for decades as well as those new to the program. The Affordable Care Act had a huge impact in California. The percentage of uninsured people in the state dropped from 17% before the law went into effect to 7% last year, the lowest rate ever, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
The upside is that a handful of Republican senators are refusing to back the bill as is. They know if they sign on, it’s only a matter of time when their constituents will be unable to afford coverage. When it starts to hit home, Trump supporters who voted against their own interests, will have to choose their personal health over party loyalty. That’s when “the chickens will come home to roost,” so to speak, and Republicans seeking re-election in 2018 will be in danger of losing their seats.
Even conservative Sen. Rand Paul said he wants to work with Democrats and try to come up with legislation that works better. Republican Sen. Susan Collins echoed Paul’s sentiments and added that Democrats should have been allowed to give their input at the very beginning. The Senate bill was authored by an all-white, all-male team of Republicans.
With an unsteady man in power, it’s encouraging to know that not everybody is blindly following party lines. There has to be someone who is reasonable enough to say, “Wait a minute. This is a terrible bill and the people of America deserve better.”
As we celebrate America’s independence in light of the health care debate, we are reminded that good health is among our most basic human rights—inherent in our right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It’s worth fighting for.