The Justice Department’s decision Monday that the entire Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional has sparked many questions, such as “Didn’t Republicans get killed in the midterms on health care?” and “Really? This again?” Combined with a federal judge’s ruling Thursday blocking the Trump administration’s “association health plans,” which the judge called “clearly an end-run around the ACA,” the biggest question is "What is the Republican Party’s health-care plan?” Judging from the party’s representatives on the Sunday talk shows, the answer is “whatever you want it to be.”
“The Republican plan is manifold,” said Kellyanne Conway on “Fox News Sunday.” “We have offered plans in the House,” said acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. “We have offered plans in the Senate. We came up with a bunch of ideas out of the White House.” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), one of the administration’s new health-care point men, told NBC’s Chuck Todd, “I’ve been working on a plan since the day I got to the Senate” — which would be reassuring except that this was the extent of his answer to whether a Republican health-care plan exists.
Another member of Trump’s crack team is Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), because no one knows how to fix U.S. health care better than a man who took in millions while overseeing a company committing massive Medicare fraud. The senators “are going to come up with something really spectacular,” Trump said Thursday. That seems to be news to Scott, because he said on “Face the Nation” Sunday that “I look forward to, you know, to seeing what the president’s going to put out.”
What’s in this plan or plans? Mulvaney promised preexisting conditions would be covered, because "every single plan that this White House has ever put forward since Donald Trump was elected covered preexisting conditions.” (False: GOP alternatives allowed unlimited premium hikes on those with preexisting conditions, as well as the removal of some benefits.) Scott said that “of course” maternity care would be covered. (Previous GOP plans didn’t cover maternity care.) Barrasso touted the same association health plans that were just blocked.
Is the plan able to be this amalgam of imagination because there isn’t, in fact, any plan? Heavens no, said Conway. “There is a plan. We’ve been working on a plan for a long time. And we hope that Congress would come along.” But also, it’s not really the White House’s fault there is no plan: When Wallace pointed out that “you’ve never actually come up with a whole plan,” Conway replied, “Well, Donald Trump has been president for two years. So, give us a chance.”
Spoken like a team with a plan.
When they weren’t dancing away from specifics, Conway, Mulvaney and company spent much of their time on health-care fear-mongering about Medicare-for-all. But what Medicare-for-all supporter Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on “Face the Nation” is correct: “If Trump gets his way, the cost of health insurance for you will be so high that many people literally will not be able to afford it. Thousands of people will literally die. That’s Trump’s health insurance plan.” Whereas Sanders’s bill and Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s bill in the House not only exist but would save lives. That’s the truth, no matter how hard Republicans try to duck it.