The news yesterday from the Congressional Budget Office that the much-anticipated Republican repeal/replacement legislation for the 2010 Affordable Care Act would leave 24 million Americans uninsured by 2026 has rocked the debate over former President Barack Obama’s signature health reform law. We haven’t seen much in the way of response to the CBO’s damning analysis from Republicans, some of whom were fully intending to dismiss the estimate until the White House’s own numbers projected an even larger loss.
Politico obtained one of the only responses from Sen. Cory Gardner we believe has been made public as of now:
“We’ve got work to do here,” said Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who had raised concerns about the bill’s effect on Medicaid. [Pols emphasis]
Whatever that means! Sen. Gardner’s decision to join with three other vulnerable Republicans in expressing concern about Medicaid patients under the House GOP’s plan was contradicted by Gardner’s appearance at a press conference with Vice President Mike Pence to support the plan a day later. This contradiction has yet to be resolved, but we have to believe that time is running out for Gardner to continue skating.
On the other hand, as Jason Salzman reported yesterday, Rep. Mike Coffman has explicitly committed himself to voting for the House GOP legislation “in its current form.” Coffman said that before the CBO score was made public, and there’s been no subsequent statement to suggest otherwise. Not that it would matter much anyway, after the Paul Ryan-orbit American Action Network started running ads today praising Coffman for his support of Ryan’s American Healthcare Act:
Today the American Action Network (@AAN) begins a new $1.5 million issue advocacy campaign to further momentum as conservative lawmakers fight to pass historic health care reform with the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The ad highlights key elements of the plan and encourages lawmakers to deliver on their health care promise. Over the next two weeks, the ads will air nationally on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and in 15 congressional districts nationwide…
“This is a historic opportunity to reverse the trajectory of health care in our country. Many conservative lawmakers are fighting for strong, conservative solutions to the Affordable Care Act that has failed and will only get worse unless Congress passes the American Health Care Act,” said Corry Bliss, AAN Executive Director. “We want constituents to know about their representatives’ efforts as they fight to keep their promise and deliver a plan that will provide access to quality, affordable health care of their choice.”
At some point, we expect Coffman to issue a statement on whether he, you know, wants their “thanks!” With Coffman already committed to the bill prior to the analysis of its effects being released, the ad makes sense–as of right now.
But for politicians with an interest in their own career survival like Coffman, these things have a way of changing. The stark human costs of the House GOP repeal bill, weighed against any economic benefit it might have for the nation, invite the most basic questions about what the point of this entire exercise even is. And it breaks the central promise that has been made by Republicans throughout the long debate over Obamacare: to replace it with something quantifiably better.
For Sen. Gardner and Rep. Coffman, this is a fateful moment. Six years of posturing and misinformation just hit the wall of reality. It is not hyperbole to suggest that what they do next will make or break their careers.