The Next Phase of the Obamacare Fight
Yesterday was a great day for the American people, as the GOP's internal fights kept the House from reaching the votes they needed to begin taking away health care from 24 million people. Yesterday was a vindication not just for the Affordable Care Act but for the tectonic paradigm shift it represented in American health care policy: establishing the right to health care as a social and public responsibility rather than subject simply to individual affordability. Even Fox News had to admit that yesterday represented a big win for President Obama himself.
But make no mistake. While Donald Trump and Paul Ryan have officially declared the end of legislative rope on trying to destroy the progress we have made under Obamacare, Republicans have not given up on attacking with all guns blazing on the administrative front. Trump blatantly warned that Obamacare is going to "implode", as if no one will notice that he now controls the administrative apparatus that can be used to create just such an implosion. Donald Trump has basically told us that just for spite, he will try to make sure the law fails by trying to kneecap it administratively.
There lies the next long battle of protecting health care reform. And that's the fight we will be fighting when the news coverage has turned away from Trump's first big legislative failure. We need to be watching every move of the Trump/Price HHS to weaken or alter the protections under Obamacare, whether that is by providing waivers to states that cannot under law demonstrate they can meet coverage requirements, trying to negatively affect the running of the federal exchanges in states that did not set up their own, or whether it comes in the form of refusal to police insurance companies and plans effectively.
The task of protecting the crowning achievement of President Obama and the health care for tens of millions of our fellow citizens is arduous, but not impossible. Already, at the request of Sens. Patty Murray and Elizabeth Warren, the Inspector General at Health and Human Services Department is reviewing Trump Administration's decision to halt Obamacare ads, a move the last HealthCare.gov CEO (you know, the one actually cared about making the law work) said was aimed at limiting enrollment.
Democrats have proven in the first months of the Trump administration that while we may not be the party in power, we can be united and use our voice to draw attention to a scandal-ridden Trump administration and a fractured Republican majority in Congress. Without a prolific Adam Schiff, the scandal over the House intelligence Chairman feeding information to Trump on investigations targeting the White House's Russian love affair would have been quieted. Without a united Democratic front, Comey's flat rebuke of Trump's insane wiretap claims would not get play. After years of absolute disregard for truth in reporting, the media too is awakening to their massive failures that led to a Trump White House, and willing to pay just a bit more attention to facts (not enough).
Just as Donald Trump believes that the federal administrative apparatus is his tool to destroy Obamacare, every Trump scandal - health care or not - has to be in our quiver to beat their attempts back. Every scandal has to be emphasized, highlighted, bolded. Because every scandal - every member of the administration connected to Russia, every false claim about wiretapping, every attempt to jeopardize open investigations and every firing of US attorneys in this regard - provides an important window to the American people on why Donald Trump and his administration - and, his party - cannot be trusted.
The more effective, bolder, and sharper that distrust is, that weakening of the trust will make it easier to make our case that the administration is, willingly and knowingly, damaging people's health care. We will only make that case with evidence of such weakening, but we should not be shy about compounding Trump's credibility problems with other scandals and using that weakened credibility to push back on the attempts his administration will inevitably make to weaken Obamacare.
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