GOP leaders from Congress and the Trump administration are in the midst of a whirlwind campaign to sell their Obamacare replacement plan to the American public even as groups from both sides of the aisle have come out against the law.
Top administration officials and their allies — House Speaker Paul Ryan, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, top economic adviser Gary Cohn, Office of Management, and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney — all gave interviews defending the American Health Care Act on Sunday and Monday.
The interviews seemed to hit three major themes about the AHCA: the current law, the Affordable Care Act, is failing; the new law will fix this; and the GOP will come together around the AHCA despite initial misgivings from some in the party.
‘Obamacare is collapsing’
Ryan, in an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, repeated his oft-used line that Obamacare is coming apart at the seams.
“Obamacare is collapsing,” Ryan said. “If we just did nothing, washed our hands of the situation, we would see a further collapse of the health insurance markets. So we feel an obligation to step in front of that collapse and replace this law with one that works, that has more freedom.”
Ryan’s comments echoed what Trump has said since the campaign, telling supporters that the politically smart thing would be to let the law collapse and blame the Democrats. Instead, Trump has said, Republicans would replace the law before that happens.
“We came into office with an insurance plan that doesn’t work,” said Cohn. “Obamacare just is not working.”
‘Nobody will be worse off’
At the same time, the media blitz is aimed at pushing back on criticisms of the law from conservative and liberal lawmakers, as well as activist groups on opposite ends of the political spectrum and industry groups.
Price, for his part, told NBC’s Chuck Todd that the law would not negatively impact American’s finances, despite independent analyses showing that many people will see their financial assistance to buy insurance go down.
“I firmly believe that nobody will be worse off financially in the process that we’re going through, understanding that they will have choices that they can select the kind of coverage that they want for themselves and for their family, not the government forces them to buy,” Price said.
In addition, as reported by Business Insider’s Maxwell Tani, Mulvaney emphasised the different between “care” and “coverage” during an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” another frequent emerging talking point in support of the AHCA.
Republican leaders have long argued that even though approximately 20 million more people have insurance through Obamacare’s various provisions, that does not mean they can get access to “care” due to high deductibles and shrinking insurance networks.
“I was on Obamacare when I was in the House,” Mulvaney said. “My family deductibles were over $US15,000 a year. Other folks who don’t make as much money as I did were on the exact same plan. Do you think they could afford to go to the doctor? That’s what we’re trying to fix — not coverage for people, not coverage they can’t afford, but care they can afford.”
‘That’s how legislation works’
Additionally, administration representatives suggested that despite concerns and lawmakers within the GOP coming out against the bill, the AHCA will eventually get passed.
Ryan said the concerns from conservative and moderate Republicans are just part of the normal legislative process.
“People are going to try and negotiate,” Ryan said. “People are going to say, ‘I wish we could do this, let’s do that.’ That’s how legislation works. Negotiations and compromises occur when you are writing law. And what we are seeing and hearing is just that.”
Cohn also hinted the White House is open to suggestions from conservatives and could be willing to compromise on some aspects of the AHCA.
“Chris, I think the president has been very open and transparent on the issue that he’s been willing to accept improvements to the bill,” Cohn said. “We’ve got out of our way and the president has said this, to say that anything that makes the bill better for Americans, we are willing to accept.”
For his part,Trump chimed in on the issue on Monday morning, tweeting that the plan will be accepted by members of the GOP.
“Obamacare is imploding,” Trump wrote. “It is a disaster and 2017 will be the worst year yet, by far! Republicans will come together and save the day.”
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