Friday, September 22, 2017

Abbreviated pundit roundup: GOP defends its awful health insurance bill with lies

We begin today’s roundup with Paul Krugman at The New York Times who explains how Republicans are lying in an attempt to gain support for their latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act:
Graham-Cassidy, the health bill the Senate may vote on next week, is stunningly cruel. It’s also incompetently drafted: The bill’s sponsors clearly had no idea what they were doing when they put it together. Furthermore, their efforts to sell the bill involve obvious, blatant lies.
Nonetheless, the bill could pass. And that says a lot about today’s Republican Party, none of it good.
Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin analyze the impact of block grants:
An internal analysis by the Trump administration concludes that 31 states would lose federal money for health coverage under Senate Republicans’ latest effort to abolish much of the Affordable Care Act, with the politically critical state of Alaska facing a 38 percent cut in 2026.
The report, produced by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, focuses on the final year of a block grant that states would receive under the Cassidy-Graham legislation. It shows that government funding for such health insurance would be 9 percent lower overall in 2026 under the plan than under current law.
Jonathan Chait, meanwhile, dives into the sweetners in the bill aimed at securing key votes:
Graham’s bill gives Alaska especially generous treatment. Haley Byrd reports that Republicans are offering an even more magnanimous bargain — a complete exemption from the deep cuts to Medicaid and tax credits that other states will suffer. Juliet Eilperin reports that the exemption from the cuts would apply to Alaska and Montana only — the two states would qualify on the basis of their low population density. Obamacare would be repealed in the other states, but suspiciously live on in a state whose vote Republican need really badly.
Georgetown law professor Brian Galle explains that the Constitution has a uniformity clause — Article I, section 8 of the Constitution says “all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.” The purpose of the clause is to prevent coalitions of states from ganging up on others to impose discriminatory treatment.
Margaret Hartmann deconstructs Secretary Price’s excuses for why he’s blowing tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on travel:
HHS spokesperson Charmaine Yoest said Price has flown commercial during his tenure as secretary, but “He has used charter aircraft for official business in order to accommodate his demanding schedule. The week of September 13 was one of those times, as the secretary was directing the recovery effort for Irma, which had just devastated Florida, while simultaneously directing the ongoing recovery for Hurricane Harvey.”
That explanation doesn’t make sense, since according to Politico, at least 17 of the flights took place before Harvey hit Texas. But that’s not the best part of Yoest’s response. She added: “Some believe the HHS Secretary should be Washington-focused. Dr. Price is focused on hearing from Americans across the country.” [...] 
there are ways for Price to talk with average Americans across the country without dropping hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on private planes. 
Joan Walsh:
But in order to pass a bill before the September 30 deadline, Republicans are relying on an unsteady platform of lies. First of all, that’s not a real deadline; it’s just the deadline for using the reconciliation process, which lets them pass their changes with only Republican votes. Nothing stops them from pushing Graham-Cassidy through the normal Senate process of hearings, debate, and amendments—and then having to win 60 votes, which means convincing some Democrats.
Jeff Spross:
My mother once told me: Never assume mendacity when stupidity is a sufficient explanation for someone's behavior. This adage is being put to the test by Senate Republicans' fourth and final bill to repeal ObamaCare.
Written by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), this bill is so bad that you'd either have to be lying through your teeth or dumber than bricks to support it. Every argument that's being used to sell the bill is flatly contradicted by what's inside of it.
On a final note, here’s Eugene Robinson’s analysis of the bill:
And I haven’t even mentioned the worst thing about the bill: It revokes the ACA’s expansion of the Medicaid program, which provided health coverage for millions of the working poor, and turns Medicaid into an underfunded block-grant program to be administered by the states. GOP rhetoric about federalism and local control is smoke designed to obscure the real goal, which is to dramatically slash the federal contribution toward Medicaid.
In the short term, billions of health-care dollars would effectively be transferred from states that participated in Medicaid expansion, such as California, to states that did not, such as Texas. In the long term, however, all states would suffer from inadequate federal funding of Medicaid, which is the primary payer for about two-thirds of nursing-home residents nationwide.

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