Smile Politely

Repeal and Replace: Part 3

In the final installment of this 3 part story, I’ll be providing my final thoughts on Republicare, the sequence of events that created it, and the rationale of our congressman, Rodney Davis, in supporting it.

If it wasn’t clear after reading part 1 and part 2 of this story, I believe (as does almost anyone that’s done an analysis of the bill) that were Republicare to pass, it would leave us with a significantly worse situation than the one we’ve found ourselves in under the ACA. Here are the bullet points:

  • 24 million newly uninsured by 2020
  • 600 billion dollar tax cut that overwhelmingly benefits the top 1-2%
  • increased cost/decreased quality of care for the elderly, poor, and the sick
  • Medicaid gutted by 880 billion dollars, with the Medicaid expansion frozen after 2020
  • Defunds Planned Parenthood
  • Large employers no longer required to offer insurance to their employees
  • Allows states to kick people off Medicaid if they’re without work for 60 days (sorry new mothers)

As you would expect when looking at these key points, Republicare is incredibly unpopular. So unpopular in fact that this bill is likely already dead. Yes, you’re reading that right, I just spent 2 articles and over 4,000 words discussing a bill that I believe will never reach the President’s desk. Now you’re probably asking yourself why would I waste my time and yours taking such an in-depth look at a bill that’s doomed to fail? I asked myself that question several times as I was writing, but ultimately decided that it was worthwhile for one major reason.

If nothing else, this bill shows us the direction in which Congressman Davis and his fellow conservatives wish to take our healthcare system.

This is an important question to answer, and insofar as the direction our health care system is headed under the tripartite conservative leadership, I think Republicare makes that abundantly clear. Conservatives will attempt to control costs by limiting access for those most expensive to insure and decreasing the quality of care for those that remain. The less sick people there are buying insurance, the fewer payouts insurance companies will have to make, and the less comprehensive the plans they sell are, the cheaper they’ll be to administer and acquire.

It’s also important to note that Republicare borrows heavily from the previously proposed “Better Way” plan, as well as the various potential GOP replacement plans of the last several years. Unless the next proposed plan is Single-Payer, don’t expect any future GOP legislation to differ greatly from Republicare. Knowing that, many/most of the criticisms I and many others have of this bill will likely be relevant to any future GOP-sponsored “repeal and replace” bills.

For those reasons, congressman Davis’s support of this bill tells us a lot about him as a representative, and how seriously he took his promise to provide his constituents with a superior alternative to the ACA. In my view, Davis’s rationale for supporting this bill and his actions since it’s reveal paint an extremely unflattering picture. Rep. Davis’s defense of the bill started off on familiar ground for him, painting anyone who dares to oppose him as an extremist. As I discussed in Part 1, those “extremists” include the AARP, the American Medical Association, and dozens of other historically respected institutions. This argument failed pretty much out of the gate, and Rep. Davis has since stopped using it.

Davis then shifted to the “wait and see” argument popular among defenders of the Trump administration.

“The bill will be revised, edited, modified, so we really shouldn’t rush to judgment.”

“This is simply part 1 of a 3 part strategy.”

Unfortunately for Rep. Davis, his Republican colleague in the Senate, Tom Cotton (R-AR) exposed that talking point for what it was:

“there is no three-phase process. There is no three-step plan. That is just political talk. It’s just politicians engaging in spin.”

Strangely, Congressman Davis himself seemed to bury the hatchet in the “wait and see” argument days later when he admitted during an interview that he supported the bill even in its current form. Just so we’re clear, YOU shouldn’t rush to judgment of the bill, even though Congressman Davis already has.

He’s now pivoted to the standard GOP response to unflattering data/statistics/evidence in that he’s outright denying it. On what grounds you might ask? None really, the congressman discounts the CBO’s report because he (incorrectly) believes the CBO got it wrong with the ACA. Oddly, the congressman believes the numbers in the report CAN be trusted in regards to the potential premium decreases some on the market may see after 2020. Now, how Davis determines what’s true from what isn’t true in the CBO’s report is a mystery to all but him, but I think it’s clear to most that this is nothing more than cynical and dishonest partisan political behavior. Much like the president he follows in lock-step (he’s voted with the administration nearly 100% of the time) Davis is essentially calling the CBO’s report “fake news”…..except for the parts of it he likes, which apparently aren’t fake.

NOTE: Davis also seems to have missed the part of the CBO’s report that contradicts his favorite talking point in that the ACA is “failing”. In reality, the ACA is stable, and could easily be fixed were Rep. Davis and his colleagues to actually make an effort to do so.

These arguments paint the picture of a representative that is more concerned with toeing the party line than making a thoughtful and informed decision regarding a bill that will have a significant impact on the lives of the voters in his district.

When it comes to something as consequential as making drastic changes to our healthcare system, elected officials like Congressman Davis need to be intimately in-tune to the will of their constituents, and the consequences their vote will have on them. Unfortunately, neither of those appear to be true in Congressman Davis’s case. He ignores the likely realities of this bill’s impact on the people that live in his district and instead substitutes whatever the party leadership tells him reality is. And when it comes to the will of his constituents, it would be exceedingly difficult for Davis to know what exactly that is, as he’s still avoiding them like the plague.

His language and arguments in support of the bill are a verbatim regurgitation of the party line, and in no way demonstrate that Davis has a firm grasp on the likely consequences of his actions. When he held his tele-town hall several weeks ago, he had to have another congressman come on and answer questions regarding health care reform for him. A week or so before that he introduced a pre-existing conditions bill that literally couldn’t work. Now I’m not asking Rep. Davis to be an expert on EVERY issue, but I am asking that he show some interest in making an informed decision. Nothing he has done in the past month or two has indicated to me he is interested in anything of the sort. He shows a consistent pattern of being woefully uninformed in regards to health care policy, yet is consistently outspoken on that very issue. It would seem his position has more to do with the talking points he’s been forwarded and less to do with the impact that position will have on the people that he claims to represent.

Speaking of representation, Davis’s next scheduled event after voting on this bill is a 1,000 dollar per plate fundraiser in Chicago with Paul Ryan. Yes, the same Paul Ryan that appears to dictate what Davis thinks about the bill. One simply needs to wait a few hours after Ryan makes a statement to see it repeated verbatim by Rep. Davis. The same Paul Ryan that has tasked Rep. Davis with whipping votes for the bill. Could it be any clearer whose position Rep. Davis truly represents?

Rep. Davis seems to be trying to placate those concerned with his actions and arguments in support of this bill by posting photo-ops in which he meets with healthcare professionals in the area. He and his staff are attempting to make it look as if Davis is seriously considering the arguments of the healthcare community, a community that overwhelmingly opposes this bill. Of course, as Rep. Davis admits, he’s already made up his mind, and when he votes tomorrow, he’ll likely vote contrary to the wishes of that very community.

At risk of beating a dead horse, I hope it’s clear to all that have stuck with me through all 3 parts of this story that, at least on this issue, Rep. Davis has taken a position that is unthinking, uncaring, and irresponsible. Making drastic changes to our health care system will put real people’s lives at stake. To dismiss the concerns of the people that will actually be affected, and to do so in such a cynical way is absolutely shameful behavior, and should be completely unacceptable to all those in Davis’s district, whether you voted for him or not.

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