The Senate Health Bill Is a Scathing Indictment of the Republican Party
While those contrasting moralities express themselves every day in ways large and small, every once in a while a party gets the opportunity to make a grand statement about what it believes. That’s what Republicans in the Senate did this week when they released their version of a health-care bill. If you want to know what today’s GOP is all about, you can find the answer woven through that bill’s pages.
Let’s begin with one of the party’s two great goals, one that extends beyond this bill to other issues like taxes and regulation. That goal is to make life as easy and pleasant as possible for the wealthy, those “job creators” whose virtue is proven by the size of their bank accounts. The Senate’s bill gives them a cornucopia of benefits, rolling back the tax increases that were contained in the Affordable Care Act, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. One cut, on investment taxes, would even be made retroactive to the beginning of the year, just to put something extra in the wealthy’s pockets. There are a couple of more little goodies in there, like the repeal of an ACA provision that limited the tax deduction for insurance company CEO pay to the first $500,000. The Republicans who wrote the bill were being very thoughtful.
Then there’s Medicaid, the bill’s most prominent target for assault. It also not only eliminates the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid, phasing it out beginning in 2021, but goes much farther. Medicaid would no longer be an “entitlement,” which means that anyone who meets the eligibility criteria gets the benefit, even if in some years that means its budget gets unexpectedly bigger. Instead, Medicaid would be subject to new, slow-growing per capita caps, which represents hundreds of billions in cuts in coming years.