Justin Bielinski
Op Ed

Republicans Lost The Healthcare Debate

And they’re perfectly fine with that.

By - Jun 12th, 2017 03:31 pm
Mike Pence. Photo is in the Public Domain.

Mike Pence. Photo is in the Public Domain.

About midway through a so-called “listening session” at a medical supply company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, featuring Vice President Mike Pence and Governor Scott Walker, a surprising and worrisome truth became evident: Republicans have lost the healthcare debate – and they’re perfectly fine with that.

After brief remarks by the company’s founder and CEO, and the typical barrage of exaggerations and half-truths from Walker, extolling the virtues of both his refusal to accept federal expansion funds for Medicaid and his decision to lower the state’s eligibility threshold from 133% of the poverty level to exactly 100%, Vice President Pence took the stage. He was greeted with what could best be described as a perfectly acceptable level of fanfare by the assembled crowd of party operatives, local Republican legislators, cherry-picked small business owners, and a smattering of curious onlookers, myself included. By the time Pence had finished his remarks, leaving no opportunity for questions or comment from the audience, the Republican strategy to sell their health plan had become clear.

First, characterize the status quo as crisis. Premiums are rising between 90 and 200%, Walker claimed. Grandparents are forced to choose between buying Christmas presents for their grandchildren or buying health insurance for themselves – so said the Vice President, in his trademark folksy croon. Toward the end of his remarks, Governor Walker went so far as to claim that under current law, 28 million people would be without healthcare by 2026. He takes this number from a CBO report, failing to mention that under the House repeal plan, that number would rise to 51 million. Unlike Trump, Walker always includes an element of truth in his distortions.

Second, promise to keep the popular parts of the Affordable Care Act. They promise to include protections for pre-existing conditions, and to “reform and strengthen” Medicaid while knowing full well that the bill Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to push through the Senate in the very near future does neither of those things.

In essence, Pence used the very content of the Affordable Care Act to justify its replacement. A bill that none of us have seen, nobody seems to like, and yet the majority of both houses of Congress seem to think is essential. Republicans know the House repeal bill is a disaster with voters. They know the Affordable Care Act is more popular than ever. They know that when polled on numerous key components of the law, President Obama’s signature policy achievement, a strong majority of Americans support them. They know this so well that they’re willing to campaign for their own bill by promising to keep these components intact, even if they have no intention of doing so. Republicans have lost the healthcare debate. Sometime this summer, we’ll find out if that matters. At the moment, there’s better than even odds it won’t.

Justin Bielinski is an organizer and health policy advocate at Citizen Action of Wisconsin. He holds a Master’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Categories: Health, Op-Ed, Politics

12 thoughts on “Op Ed: Republicans Lost The Healthcare Debate”

  1. Vincent Hanna says:

    -Senate Republicans hope to rush their health-care bill into law with the absolute minimum of public scrutiny. Caitlin Owens reports that the bill is likely to be finalized tonight, but will not be made public anytime soon.

    “We aren’t stupid,” one GOP aide tells Owens.


  2. WashCoRepub says:

    Reading the “Board of Directors” at Citizen Action of Wisconsin is like reading a list of “Who’s Who In The World of Unions.” No doubt employees like Mr. Bielinski write what they’re told.

  3. Jason Troll says:

    Why didn’t the Democrats put a funding mechanism in to pay the generous subsidies to lower income users of Obamacare. The truth is they did not have the votes to punish the tax payers again. So, Obama and Co. left the program twisting in the wind. Republican just decide to not fund a program that lacked funding. Politically, it may hurt the Republicans but morally it is the Democrats fault for building a program it new it couldn’t pay for.

  4. Vincent Hanna says:

    Hey WashCoRepub that’s rich coming from someone who parrots GOP talking points on a regular basis. Talk about pot meet kettle. You clearly have no sense of irony.

  5. fightingbobfan says:

    The right wing is fond of telling us they won and so deal with it.

    So here’s what we will deal with if the GOP budget plan passes to slash Medicaid.

    A third of us will be going into nursing homes at some point of our lives. If not, many of the rest of you will have parents who will have to. Few of us have the money to pay for nursing home costs.

    These cuts, which have been made to provide tax cuts for the already obscenely rich, will devastate wide swaths of the population, and to put it in the terms of the selfish right wing — probably you.

    So this is what winning looks like.

  6. Mike says:

    What debate? The Democrats have said nothing since Obamacare except they do not like anything else put forth. They have not offered one improvement in Congress. So, f you think the Dems won, let’s let Obamacare play out, and when it implodes, see how many millions of people lose their healthcare.

  7. Vincent Hanna says:

    So the Democrats have no ideas while the Republicans have terrible ideas that will screw everyone but the wealthy.

  8. Jason Troll says:

    My favorite Democratic talking point is that millions will lose coverage on the Republican plan, except they down play the fact that people will now have a choice to sign up for Obamacare and not just be force too.

  9. Vincent Hanna says:

    That’s from the CBO JT, not Democrats. They are just sharing what the CBO said. You and facts just don’t mesh.

  10. Vincent Hanna says:

    And JT if Trumpcare is so good for the American people why are Republicans going out of their way to hide it?

  11. A Bus Driver says:

    They should cut the bull & do the public option they didn’t want if they actually care about anyone other than the rich asses they kiss. They & all that promote this crap should burn in hell.

  12. Vincent Hanna says:

    Anyone read story in today’s paper about Trumpcare? Trump trots out some alleged Obamacare cautionary tales. One story he told was about a family where a woman was “forced” to get a part-time job to help pay for health insurance. The horror!

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