If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is.
A series of prominent Republicans and Trump administration officials went on the Sunday morning news shows to talk about the new Republican health care plan. There’s just one problem: There is no new Republican health care plan.
On the heels of the Trump administration’s abrupt decision to change course and support a federal judge’s decision to invalidate the entirety of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Donald Trump has insisted his party “will become ‘The Party of Healthcare!’” and said things like, “if the Supreme Court rules that Obamacare is out, we will have a plan that’s far better than Obamacare.” But his words don’t mean anything — neither his administration nor Republican members of Congress are anywhere close to unveiling a new health care plan.
Nonetheless, on Fox News Sunday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway described the nonexistent Republican health care plan as “manifold.”
Host Chris Wallace pushed back, noting that the Trump administration “had two years with Republicans in control of the House and the Senate and the White House and you could never — the GOP — could never come up with a plan that they could all agree to any pass.”
“Well, they need to,” Conway replied, before pivoting to attacking Democrats.
Kellyanne Conway on the President saying he wants to kill Obamacare and will have a plan that's better #FNS pic.twitter.com/KlGVw9IZv1
— FoxNewsSunday (@FoxNewsSunday) March 31, 2019
While Conway avoided specifics, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney promised during an interview on ABC’s This Week that nobody will lose their health care coverage if the Trump administration’s effort to get the entire ACA invalidated is successful.
“The debate about preexisting conditions is over,” Mulvaney said. “Both parties support them, and anyone telling you anything different is lying to you for political gain. Preexisting conditions are going to be covered.”
It’s a lie the administration pushed during Obamacare repeal efforts in 2017 as well.
Pin this tweet: Asked if he can guarantee that Americans will not lose coverage if Obamacare is struck down, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney says, "yes."
Via ABC pic.twitter.com/SWwEbhz2fp
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 31, 2019
But according to the Urban Institute Health Policy Center, 19.9 million people would lose health care coverage if the ACA is eliminated — a number comparable to the 23 million that stood to lose coverage had the previous Republican health care bill, the American Health Care Act (ACHA), not narrowly failed in the Senate in 2017.
Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported that Trump recently asked Republican Sens. John Barrasso (WY), Bill Cassidy (LA), and Rick Scott (FL) to take the lead in developing a new Republican health care bill. Barrasso and Scott made clear during TV appearances on Sunday that they still have a lot of work to do.
On NBC’s Meet the Press, Barrasso struggled to answer host Chuck Todd’s very basic question about if Americans should “expect an actual health care plan alternative from the Republican Party this year.”
“The American people should expect to not have to be — um, burdened with the incredible costs that are affecting them now,” Barrasso said, in an effort to dodge the question.
LOL — @SenJohnBarrasso is left speechless after Chuck Todd asks him the very basic question, "should the American people expect an actual health care plan alternative from the Republican party this year." pic.twitter.com/5HfPYT0PSa
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 31, 2019
The Post reported that “Republicans have no intention of heeding President Trump’s urgent demands for a new health-care plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, fearing the potential political damage that such a proposal could cause in 2020 and hoping he will soon drop the idea,” citing interviews “with numerous GOP lawmakers, legislative staffers and administration aides.”
Scott, meanwhile, claimed on CBS’s Face the Nation that the Republican alternative to the ACA would “of course” cover maternity care — a claim at odds with the fact that the ACHA would’ve resulted in women paying as much as $1,000 a month out of pocket for maternity coverage.
AHCA, celebrated in the Rose Garden by Trump, would have let states nix coverage for maternity care.
CBO projected pregnant women could face *$1,000 a month* premiums for maternity coverage riders in those states https://t.co/NrcdQrPBEe https://t.co/JjBR7jSjAc
— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) April 1, 2019
Conway, Mulvaney, Barrasso, and Scott have good reason not to be enthusiastic about the president’s effort to again make health care policy a topic of national discussion. Exit polls indicated health care was the top issue in the 2018 elections, and a vast majority said they trust Democrats to do a better job protecting preexisting conditions than Republicans.
So in a sense, the Republican Party has already become “the party of health care” — just not in the way Trump intends.
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