On today's BradCast: There was a time when we used to debate the pros and cons of various public policy in this country, rather than whether one side was simply lying about the policy. This is not that time. The brazen and utter lies from this Administration and the GOP leadership in the Senate about their health care legislation is becoming more desperate (and obvious) by the day. They've also received the notice of Republican Governors, Senators and, yes, Trump voters. [Audio link to show follows below.]
There is no small amount of irony in the fact that Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been forced to delay a vote on the Senate's Republican health care bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare, due to a health incident for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who is said to be recuperating in good condition after surgery on Friday. Doctors have ordered him, however, to sit out the week in Arizona, so he is unable to make it back to D.C. for McConnell's previously planned vote this week.
As of now, the bill can not possibly survive without every Senate Republican on hand. Even then, it may not pass the upper chamber. Over the weekend, the Trump Administration unleashed Vice President Mike Pence and the two top health care officials --- Health and Human Services Sec. Tom Price and the and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma --- to convince members of the National Governor's Association that up was down, black was white, and some $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid in the GOP health care scheme were not cuts at all, and wouldn't result in the loss of coverage to millions of Americans.
The governors, including many Republicans, weren't buying it. And some (like Ohio's Republican Governor John Kasich) even called out the Administration on their lies, some of which were also repeated on the Sunday shows over the weekend. As noted on today's program, there are several reasons why the Admin has been left with virtually no choice but to lie about the legislation, because even their own voters have begun to take notice.
We discuss today some of the concerns about the bill from Senate GOP moderates like Susan Collins of Maine, who worries (correctly) about the cuts to Medicaid and subsequent harm to rural hospitals in her state. She also pointed out over the weekend that, despite the huge cuts to Medicaid (and the 1/5th of the American economy that will be affected by this legislation), there has not been even one single Senate hearing to discuss its consequences for Americans. Not one.
Then, NED RESNIKOFF, Senior Editor at Think Progress, joins us to discuss concerns from the other end of the GOP caucus --- namely, from Senators like Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) --- about why health care is different than regular commercial commodities like breakfast cereal, no matter how much Senators Cruz and Paul attempt to argue otherwise.
Cruz' amendment to allow insurers to include skimpy, cheap plans that don't meet minimum Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) requirements was allowed into McConnell's latest version of the bill (and has subsequently been blasted by health insurers themselves), and Paul has said he's a "no" on the bill, because it still allows too much of ObamaCare to stand. He would prefer to let the "free market" sort it all out --- ya know, the way the "free market" sorted it all out before ObamaCare, leaving more than 40 million Americans with no health care at all.
"The analogy I used to explain what's wrong with Rand Paul's line of thinking here was selecting between different boxes of cereal at the supermarket. Because the place where Paul is coming from is assuming that markets always work in the same way and play by the same rules. But the truth is that healthcare is a very different kind of commodity, if we choose to treat it as a commodity, than a box of cereal," says Resnikoff, as he explains how the "life and death" nature of health care tends to "skew the way that a market would [normally] set prices."
And, while it's unclear whether Paul actually believes his own rhetoric or not, what's clear is that Republicans in general do not believe their own arguments against the ACA over the past 10 years, which is just one of the reasons they are now forced to lie about it. "This really has taken on this sort of internal logic of its own," Resnikoff argues. "Where if you actually take a step back, and think about it outside the inverted logic that this debate has taken on, it's hard to figure out why they're doing any of this. This most recent version of the bill is designed to solve a problem that doesn't exist. If you go and ask these Senators, which Vox did a few weeks ago, what is this bill trying to do? What is this bill for? No one has an answer. No one can really explain it. It's just: 'This is the Obamacare repeal bill'."
Finally, a new study looks at the fall-out after the state of Texas slashed family planning funding to health care providers like Planned Parenthood in 2011. You'll be "shocked" to learn that the GOP initiative, just like their lies about ObamaCare, didn't exactly accomplish what they had pretended it would. In fact, quite the opposite happened. And, of course, tax-payers are left once again to pay the price for those lies...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)