North Carolina Congressman Ted Budd cast an indefensible vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with legislation that is so awful that Budd’s fellow Republicans were caught scheming to exempt themselves and their staffs from the measure’s draconian provisions.
But Budd got one thing right. “I’ll take around 2,000 votes this Congress. Most of them will be forgotten,” the Republican congressman said as the vote approached. “This is not one of those votes.”
Good. The vote by 217 House Republicans to gut the Affordable Care Act (while 20 of their colleagues and 193 Democrats opposed the move) must be remembered as the shameful abandonment of health and humanity that it is. This should become the permanent stain on every member of the House who supported it—the issue that does not to go away. House Speaker Paul Ryan and his caucus abandoned any pretense of deliberative or responsible legislating in order to deliver an empty “win” for the flailing administration of President Donald Trump.
To do this, Ryan’s Republicans voted for a devastating piece of legislation without knowing:
- the cost of their plan
- how many tens of millions of Americans will lose insurance
- how their plan will be implemented at the federal or state level
- what will remain of their plan after it is reviewed by the Senate
House Republicans simply did not care. The overwhelming majority of them cast their votes as Ryan said they should, and then they ran the gantlet—past crowds of citizens chanting “Shame! Shame! Shame!”—on their way to a White House Rose Garden “celebration” of their partisanship with Donald Trump.
Republicans claimed that they had addressed the fundamental flaws in a bill that had been widely decried for providing less health care to fewer people at greater cost. But that was a convenient lie, told for the sake of media outlets that could not keep up with the twisting and tinkering that was being done to win the votes of so-called “moderate” Republican holdouts. The truth came from the American Medical Association (AMA): “None of the legislative tweaks under consideration changes the serious harm to patients and the healthcare delivery system if AHCA passes. Proposed changes to the bill tinker at the edges without remedying the fundamental failing of the bill—that millions of Americans will lose their health insurance as a direct result of this proposal.”