The “Skinny Appeasement” Bill

August 2, 2017

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Last week, the Republicans failed to pass the “skinny repeal” bill. Was that bad or was that good? And what now? See the end of this message for a time-sensitive ACTION ITEM.
The vote came at around 1:30 a.m. Washington, D.C. time – while most of you were sleeping. Here are some of the intriguing Senate chamber scenes I saw on the CNN feed:
Members milling around waiting, waiting, waiting. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), surrounded by three GOP, making points with firm arm movements. The vote starting while McCain was out of the room. McCain walking into the chamber, facing the Democrats, and lifting his arm high. McCain’s arm suspended for dramatic pause before his hand dropped decisively in a “no” vote. Democrats clapping in response. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) giving McCain a hug. Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer claiming the Democrats weren’t celebrating the vote and saying the two sides should work together to “fix” Obamacare.
It was high drama. But the bill was not a repeal. It was appeasement of selected groups. The bill would have:
  • Zeroed out, but not repealed, the individual mandate retroactively to 2016
  • Zeroed out, but not repealed, the employer mandate until 2025
  • Extended the moratorium on the 2.3% medical device tax through 2020
  • Increased HSA contributions to match deductible and out-of-pocket costs
  • Prohibited federal payments for one year to certain facilities that perform abortions
  • Repealed Prevention and Public Health Fund in FY 2019
  • Added $422 million for Community Health Centers in FY 2017
  • Eased access to state waivers, allowing them to waive certain ACA requirements
  • Provided $2 billion to help states apply for federal waivers.
This bill was crafted to take the Senate and the Republicans out of the hot seat. If passed, it would have gone to a conference committee - or the House could have just given it an up or down vote. But left in law would have been:
  • 159 bureaucracies
  • Most of 2,700 pages of the law and >20,000 pages of regulations
  • Taxpayer-funded subsidies and wage redistribution schemes
  • Medicaid expansion
  • All the ACA taxes
  • Individual and employer mandate statutory language
  • Managed care controls on physicians
  • Prohibition on sale of affordable catastrophic coverage
  • Health plan requirements that raise premiums
  • More….
Even though the “skinny repeal” bill would have repealed almost nothing, it would have taken pressure away from the call to repeal the law. I want real repeal. How about you?
ACTION ITEM: One of the best ways to stop Obamacare right now is to stop plans to bail out the health plans with cost-sharing reduction subsidies ($7 billion/year) that even Democrats didn’t’ fund. House Republicans sued Obama to stop them, and the court agreed with the House, but let them continue pending appeal by the Obama administration. Trump keeps threatening to withhold them – he can and he should – and hasn’t ended the appeal. If the insurers are not bailed out by taxpayers, the Obamacare exchanges (and ACA redistribution schemes/premium subsidies) will collapse, but NOT health insurance itself. So please:
  • Call on President Trump (by tweet, email, FB, phone, letter) to 1) end the appeal of the lawsuit and 2) refuse to pay the illegal Cost-Sharing Reduction subsidies. Tweet with #stoptheCSR
  • Call your member of Congress with the same message. Let them hear from you.
Collapsing the Obamacare exchanges would be a big step back to freedom.
Unswervingly for freedom,
Twila Brase, RN, PHN
President and Co-founder
P.S. What you need to know about the ACA:

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