In an unsurprising development that nonetheless represents a heavy shoe dropping, Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania has made it known that he still doesn’t want anything to do with Zombie Trumpcare. Dent, a co-chair of the Tuesday Group (an assemblage of relatively moderate House Republicans), told the Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein that his opposition to Trumpcare extends to the new plan worked out between members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and his fellow Tuesday Group co-chair Tom MacArthur. The changes from the original mainly involved provisions to let states move sicker folks into “high-risk pools” separate from the individual insurance markets everyone else is in, while offering less comprehensive health plans than Obamacare allowed, in an effort to lower premiums.
After noting that he hasn’t seen any legislative language, Dent said, “Based on what I’ve read, it does not change my position. I was a no, and I remain a no.”
Dent said the proposed deal did not address his core concerns regarding Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, which his state elected to participated in and the House bill would aim to phase out. In addition, he said he had concerns about the loss of coverage from repeal and the ability of low-income individuals to access healthcare.
The Pennsylvanian’s statement was a helpful reminder that despite all the jesuitical wordsmithing in the revised bill about people with preexisting conditions, the original Trumpcare bill’s abrupt elimination of the Medicaid expansion was not changed at all, and that’s the bigger issue for some GOP “moderates” in both the House and the Senate.
Asked to respond to conservatives who argue that they’re just trying to hold Republicans to their promises to repeal Obamacare and that funding the Medicaid expansion and maintaining the core regulations would not be repeal, Dent said, “By that argument, keeping the ban on pre-existing conditions would not be repealing Obamacare.”
Some conservatives would emphatically agree, but that’s not a very popular position.
It’s an easy guess that Dent’s position is more representative of Tuesday Group opinion than MacArthur’s, and if so, that means even if most of the House Freedom Caucus are onboard with Zombie Trumpcare, Republicans probably won’t have the votes to get it out of the House, much less the Senate.
Where does that leave the GOP on repealing and replacing Obamacare? Dent thinks it’s okay to wait:
Dent complained that, “too much of the conversation has been driven by arbitrary deadlines,” referring to the initial push to pass the legislation last month, on the seventh anniversary of Obamacare becoming law, and the talk of trying to get something done in the first 100 days of the Trump presidency.
Giving up on some immediate push might also give Republicans the opportunity to go back to the drawing board and design a better plan than Trumpcare or its zombie descendant drafts. They seem to be getting more and more remote from what the public might support, and that’s even before the Congressional Budget Office weighs in with the really bad news about the consequences for real people.