The Skinny

Trumpcare Lives!

Does John McCain still have it in him to drive the final stake through the undead heart of this vampiric legislation?

Like those undead wights that are threatening the kingdom of Westeros, Trumpcare has come back to life and is in a mad dash to escape the Senate by the end of the month, at which point Republicans will no longer have a chance to pass it through the reconciliation process (meaning that it would need more than 51 votes to pass).

So, now we get to see if Sen. John McCain was serious when he said there should be a bipartisan bill that actually improves the health care system in America, or if he'll go along with this heartless and cruel scheme to throw the entire system—including the Medicaid system that gives the poorest and most desperate Americans access to healthcare—back to the 50 states and tell them: You figure it out.

The Graham-Cassidy bill that sputtered back to life this week basically takes all the federal funding for Medicaid and other health care programs—including the money for subsidies that allow middle-income Americans to afford decent healthcare policies on the exchanges—and tosses it all to the states to figure out. In the process, it scrambles up how the money is doled out—because evidently, it would be unfair for states that didn't accept the opportunity to expand Medicaid for their poorest to actually get less money than states that did. In Arizona, this means losing a big chunk of the federal dollars that now prop up our healthcare system.

It also lets states say some magic words and waive all those protections for people with pre-existing conditions as well as the 10 essential benefits.

And by the way, the Congressional Budget Office doesn't really have time to score the bill before the end of the month. And because of the arcane Senate rules in play, whatever passes out of the Senate has to be the final version approved by the House of Representatives.

And, of course, Planned Parenthood is defunded, because why not?

We don't need a CBO report to tell us that if you deregulate the insurance policies and dramatically cut funding for health care, a whole lot more people are going to be without health insurance and those who do buy it will get crappy policies that don't cover a whole bunch of potential life-threatening conditions.

We already know that Sen. Jeff Flake would vote for anything that looks like Obamacare repeal, even if it instituted actual death panels with Killary herself in charge. But McCain was the holdout that killed off the so-called skinny repeal a few weeks back. Will he go along with this legislation, even though it's much worse than the bill that died earlier this year?

Well, last time, McCain said he was voting against the bill partially because Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey was concerned about the bill's impact on Arizona, and partially because he wanted to see a bipartisan approach and a return to regular order in the Senate, which includes handy tools like committee hearings and analysis of legislation's potential impact.

This week, Ducey gave his approval to the legislation, removing one of McCain's excuses. Ducey said the bill represented "the best way forward to repeal and replace Obamacare. ... Congress has 12 days to say 'yes' to Graham-Cassidy. It's time for them to get the job done."

There's a job being done here, all right. Let's review exactly how the state of Arizona has generously treated its poor and sick residents, shall we?

• Arizona was one of the last states to enact any kind of Medicaid program—and that only happened because lawmakers feared an initiative that might be more generous than their plan.

• Until voters expanded the threshold in 2000, you weren't eligible for Medicaid (aka AHCCCS) if you earned more than one-third of the federal poverty level.

• After voters forced lawmakers to cover anyone under the federal poverty levels, lawmakers went ahead and cut back the eligibility in 2010.

• Former Gov. Jan Brewer was barely able to persuade a handful of Republicans to join with Democrats to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The Republican lawmakers on the losing side sued the state in a case that is still winding its way through the court system.

• Ducey said on the campaign trail that he wouldn't have supported the Medicaid expansion and has signed several bills designed to weed poor people out of the Medicaid expansion by creating co-pays, new paperwork hassles and lifetime limits for able-bodied adults.

So Ducey likes this legislation, as do most Republicans. You know who doesn't like it? People who actually provide healthcare. The list of opponents includes the ALS Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Arthritis Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Family Voices, JDRF, Lutheran Services in America, March of Dimes, National Health Council, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the National Organization for Rare Diseases.

But who cares what Big Healing says? They're just taking our tax dollars and making us healthier and extending our lifespans. What a waste of tax dollars!

The televised edition of Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel airs 6:30 p.m. Fridays on the Creative Tucson network, Cox Channel 20 and Comcast Channel 74. This week's guests are state Sen. Steve Farley (D-Tucson) who talks about his campaign in next year's governor's race, and Bryan Sanders, the creator of the American Babylon website. The TV show repeats Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. The radio edition of Zona Politics airs at 5 p.m. Sundays on community radio KXCI, 91.3 FM.

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