Editorial: New health care bill sickens far more than it cures
Posted May 5
Updated May 15
A CBC Editorial: Friday, May 5, 2017; Editorial # 8157
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company
President Donald Trump and the Republicans who rule the U.S. House of Representatives may be crowing about passage of their prized health-care bill that repeals and replaces Obamacare. But back home in the states they represent, few are celebrating.
The unfortunate reality for the nation is that this bill is more likely to be a booby prize.
It is particularly astonishing and disheartening that nearly every member of the U.S. House of Representatives voted on a bill that they knew almost nothing about. The Congressional Budget Office hasn’t even had time to “score” the bill to determine its impact, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the partisan zealots.
Their blind desire to simply check repeal and replacement of Obamacare off the to-do-list for the president is no excuse for the haste and long list of important, but unanswered questions, left on the table.
- How much will it cost?
- How many people who now have insurance will lose it (unofficial estimates are at 24 million)?
- How much funding would the states get from the federal government for the program?
- What impact will it have on those with pre-existing medical conditions?
- Will it help slow, or accelerate the continued closing of rural hospitals and health care services?
In essence, House Republicans passed a bad bill that simply punts the issue to the U.S. Senate and states. Giving North Carolina’s legislative leaders any additional control over healthcare is not a good thing. They’ve already proved that.
The General Assembly’s steadfast opposition to Medicaid expansion – keeping hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians from having health insurance for the last four years – is a strong likelihood if the bill ultimately becomes law. We’ll be worse off, not better.
The AMA, AARP and hospital associations continue to oppose the bill – and the only key support is coming from the for-profit insurance companies.
One glimmer of optimism is that House passage, at this point, means the legislation goes on to an uncertain fate in the U.S. Senate. Some Senate Republicans consider the House measure too harsh.
While repeal and replace Obamacare has been a mantra of the GOP base since 2010, recent national polls have shown the law has been growing in popularity even as the efforts to quit the program have heated up.
It is clear that partisan politics means more to House Republicans than the Americans who are affected. So, let the politics play out. These politicians need to be held accountable at the polls next year.
North Carolina House members voting for this bad bill include: George Holding (2nd District), Virginia Foxx (5th District), Mark Walker (6th District), David Rouzer (7th District), Richard Hudson (8th District), Robert Pittenger (9th District), Patrick McHenry (10th District), Mark Meadows (11th District) and Ted Budd (13th District) – all Republicans.
Rep. Walter Jones of the 3rd District was one of just 20 Republicans to vote against the bill. All of the state’s Democrats -- G.K. Butterfield (1st District), David Price (4th District) and Alma Adams (12th District) – voted against the bill.
These legislators who supported this legislation have demonstrated an unparalleled lack of responsibility.
Pittenger, who represents the Charlotte area, probably was echoing the sentiments of many of the hard-hearted backers of this legislation when he bluntly told reporters earlier this week if people didn’t like health care where they lived, they could move:
“People can go to the state that they want to live in. States have all kinds of different policies and there are disparities among states for many things: driving restrictions, alcohol, whatever. We’re putting choices back in the hands of the states. That’s what Jeffersonian democracy provides for,” he said.
As the details of this legislation become clear, the inadequacies will become glaringly obvious – and those who backed it will be held to account.
These members of congress from North Carolina may not fully be aware of all they were doing when they voted Thursday. But North Carolina voters, particularly when an issue affects them so directly, do pay attention.
NOTE: An earlier version had 13th District Rep. Ted Budd's name spelled incorrectly.