April 21: Zombie TrumpCare, Budget Showdown
- Negotiations continue between hard-line and moderate Republicans over the future of TrumpCare.
- The deadline for a new spending bill in order to avoid a government shutdown is April 28.
Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ-3) recently proposed an amendment to the American Health Care Act (AHCA or "TrumpCare") aimed at reaching a consensus between the moderate Tuesday Group and hard-right Freedom Caucus. The amendment attempts to appease both moderates and conservatives by setting federal requirements for essential health benefit coverage (emergency services, mental health, maternity care, etc) and community rating (prohibiting higher premiums for pre-existing conditions), while also allowing states to waive those requirements.
Though the White House is pushing to bring a revised TrumpCare bill to a vote next week, multiple news outlets (including the New York Times, The Hill, and the Washington Post) report that senior GOP aides and Members of Congress have expressed skepticism about the viability of the bill, even with the proposed amendments.
- MacArthur Amendment to the American Health Care Act
- White House Officials, Craving Progress, Push Revised Health Care Bill (New York Times)
- ObamaCare replacement deal hits major speed bumps (The Hill)
- White House turns up heat on Congress to revise the Affordable Care Act (Washington Post)
Under the most recent spending bill, passed in December, government funding will run out on April 28, prompting a new round of negotiations among Congressional leaders to avoid a government shutdown. The Washington Post noted yesterday "Republican leaders have already admitted that they are unable to craft a spending bill that can appease the far-right flank of the GOP, and they have turned to Democrats to deliver votes instead."
Among the sticking points, two issues may prove key in the negotiations for a new spending bill: healthcare and Trump's border wall. Both Donald Trump and budget director Mick Mulvaney have suggested recently that ACA cost-sharing subsidies could be at risk if Democrats do not agree to fund construction of a border wall. These subsidies help reduce out-of-pocket expenses (such as deductibles and co-pays) for insurance plans for low-income people, but a lawsuit brought by House Republicans claims that the subsidies are unconstitutional, leaving the Trump Administration with the ability to decide on its own whether to continue pressing for them.
- White House could provoke a spending showdown over funding for border wall (Washington Post)
- With government shutdown threat looming, congressional leaders look for a deal (USA Today)
- Trump Threatens Health Subsidies to Force Democrats to Bargain (New York Times)
- Explaining the Health Payments That Trump Is Threatening to End (New York Times)
Conclusion/Call Script Overview:
Today I will be calling my Member of Congress and asking him to stand firm against the new TrumpCare amendments and to continue opposing Trump's border wall.
If you don't know who your Representative in the House, you can look it up here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
Script for Calling Scott Peters:
"Hi, my name is _____ and I'm calling from _____ (zip code). I'm calling because I've seen reports that the GOP is still trying to bring back the TrumpCare bill, with an amendment from Tom MacArthur that would let states waive essential health benefits and community rating. I know Congressman Peters has stood strong against TrumpCare so far and I would like him to continue to do so. I've also seen that the White House is threatening to withhold cost-sharing subsidies or possibly even refuse to sign a spending bill if a border wall isn't funded. Congressman Peters has been very vocal against such a wall, which I appreciate, but I want to make sure that Republican threats of a government shutdown won't weaken his resolve on this matter. Thank you."