President Trump and Republican leaders flooded social media and Sunday talk shows to defend a health care bill the House narrowly approved.
House Speaker Paul Ryan dismissed all criticism about the bill — which went to a vote last week before some Congress members read it and before a nonpartisan office scored it — as “a bogus attack from the left.”
“We’re keeping our word,” he said on ABC’s “This Week,” adding he doesn’t fear an electoral backlash in 2018. “People expect their elected leaders, if they run and campaign on doing something, they expect them to do that. And that’s what we’re doing.”
Republicans had vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, and replace it with something better.
Ryan insisted the bill’s stripping of $880 billion for Medicaid won’t damage anyone’s coverage. The Wisconsin Republican also it’s a way to let states determine their Medicaid needs without “micromanaging” from the federal government.
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said slashing Medicaid money would benefit citizens by allowing states to “tailor” coverage for their needs.
“What we’re fashioning is a system that would allow the states to tailor that Medicaid program to those specific individuals saving money but also a higher level of care than they currently do,” Price said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“Sounds like it makes a lot of sense.”
The cuts not only contradict one of Trump’s promises — that the new health care law would not hurt Medicaid — but it also is estimated to cut coverage for millions of Americans.
A Congressional Budget Office estimate on an earlier version of the American Health Care Act said 14 million people would lose their health care through the Medicaid cuts alone. The nonpartisan office said 24 million Americans altogether would lose coverage over a decade if the bill became a law.
The bill is also slated to give wealthy Americans a tax cut while kicking up coverage costs for the poor and elderly.
The House passed the measure 217-213 vote.
Ryan defended the rush by saying the bill “has been online for two months” — but he sidestepped “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos pointing out that the final text still has not been made public.
Before Ryan and Price hit the air, Trump chimed in with an anti-Obamacare tweet.
“Republican Senators will not let the American people down! Obamacare premiums and deductibles are way up — it was a lie and it is dead!” he wrote in the morning.
Trump spent his weekend tweeting Obamacare attacks, saying “insurance companies are fleeing for their lives.”
The health bill now faces a struggle in the Senate, which seems unlikely to barrel ahead on a vote without significant changes.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said the House bill is dead on arrival, and the Senate will be starting “from scratch” with its reform.
“I’m convinced that we’re going to take the time to do it right,” she said on “This Week.”
Asked about Ryan and Trump’s claims that citizens will keep their coverage under the House plan, Collins replied, “I think that’s unlikely.”