New CBO Score Makes Clear: Trumpcare is 'Political Suicide' in Senate

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New CBO Score Makes Clear: Trumpcare is 'Political Suicide' in Senate

The upper chamber of Congress 'must kill this bill before it kills us'

When senators go home for Memorial Day recess, they are sure to get an earful about Trumpcare. (Photo: John Flores/flickr/cc)

As outrage continues to percolate over the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) score for Trumpcare—showing 23 million Americans stand to lose their healthcare and those who don't will be stuck with inferior, pricier coverage—advocates and activists are directing their ire toward the U.S. Senate, which is currently crafting its own version of the bill. 

"In the weeks ahead, MoveOn members will be organizing to press senators with a range of tactics at our disposal, from urging directly affected constituents to speak up at town halls to flooding Senators with phone calls to organizing protests outside of their district offices," Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org Civic Action, said Wednesday evening.

"MoveOn members and Americans nationwide will make it clear to the Senate that following in the footsteps of the House by pushing through a dangerous and wildly unpopular bill that kicks millions off their healthcare and ends Medicaid as we know it is political suicide," she continued. "The American people oppose these efforts, and the Senate would be wise to listen to their call."

With a video outlining the "eight broken promises of Trumpcare," former Labor Secretary Robert Reich similarly warned: "We need to stop it in the Senate." 

One Tennessee doctor took his concerns to Twitter, posing a series of questions to his two Republican senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker:

It was always the case that the Senate healthcare bill would look different from the one passed by the GOP House. But Wednesday's CBO assessment underscored "just how much the legislation will have to change to get through the upper chamber," as Politico reported

Not only have Senate Democrats seized on the report's findings to bolster their opposition—Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said it was "the final nail in the coffin of the Republican effort to sabotage our healthcare system"—but even some GOP members have now voiced concern. 

"Congress's focus must be to lower premiums with coverage which passes the Jimmy Kimmel test," Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said in statement, referring to the late-night talk-show host's monologue earlier this month in which he revealed his infant son's rare heart defect and decried the idea that anyone should be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. "The [American Healthcare Act, or AHCA] does not," said Cassidy. "I am working with Senate colleagues to do so."

Nevada Republican Dean Heller, who is up for re-election next year, also spoke out, saying the House bill "does not do enough to address Nevada's Medicaid population or protect Nevadans with pre-existing conditions."

Indeed, as Tierney Sneed wrote for Talking Points Memo on Thursday, Medicaid cuts and rising premiums for people with pre-existing conditions are sure to be key sticking points in the Senate. 

On pre-existing conditions, she explained:

The big question for the CBO was the impact of a major, last-minute addition of a waiver provision to the House bill, which stands to violate GOP promises to protect those with pre-existing conditions.

The CBO found that one-sixth of Americans would live in states that would seek waivers so aggressive that it would create a wide variation in premiums for which the CBO did not even provide an estimate average. In those places, the individual market would grow increasingly unstable over time, as healthy people flocked to less generous plans that were allowed to medically underwrite based on health status. People with pre-existing conditions would in turn see premiums rise until some were priced out of coverage entirely. The extra $8 billion funding added to the House bill to subsidize them would not be "sufficient to substantially reduce" their "large increases" in premiums, the CBO said.

Senate Republicans have been generally open to a waiver idea, but many have insisted they want people with pre-existing conditions protected. So cleaning up that mess will be a top priority.

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to hold a state work period in home districts between Friday and June 2. Lawmakers are in for an earful. 

"A decision that will affect the lives of millions of people now rests solely with the Senate. They must kill this bill before it kills us," said Lee Ann Hall, co-director of grassroots group People's Action, on Thursday. She noted that "rural communities and small towns will be especially hard-hit by this repeal plan that rips the entire Medicaid program to shreds."

As such, Hall vowed, "People's Action will continue during the Memorial Day congressional recess to add more voices to the thousands upon thousands of those who have already shown up at rallies, protests, and town halls around the country. This Memorial Day, we will make sure that our Senators fully understand and remember the opposition to this legislation, as well as the damage and pain it will cause families in their districts."

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