Well, they did it. The Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives put Obamacare on the butcher’s block and started blindly hacking. The bloody mess that they’re now serving up would deny healthcare to millions of Americans, but, hey, at least, Big Orange got his ego stoked with a big “win.”
One of the prime ego stokers was Rep. Ann Wagner (R-2) who celebrated – perhaps at Big Orange’s Rose Garden beer-bust victory lap? – by screaming the word “freedom,” which she identified as “the line of the day, out of Braveheart.” As you will note if you check out the video, Riverfront Times‘ s Paul Friswold aptly captured Wagner’s tone, declaring that “she preened and cooed,” and seemed “positively giddy with anticipation at ripping healthcare away from millions of American citizens.”
Tasteless, yes. But it also suggests that Wagner’s conception of freedom is very special. Enumerating some of the actual provisions of Trumpcare 3.0 (which I base on Paul Waldman’s thorough summary, quoting directly at times) gives us the following anatomy of Braveheart Annie’s idea of healthcare freedom:
- Freedom from healthcare for everyday Americans:
- Frees upwards of 24 million from their insurance coverage:
- Frees states from the Medicaid expansion that covered a considerable portion of those 24 million Americans if their legislators are, like those in Missouri, inclined to say that only rich folks folks deserve healthcare.
- Frees states from a big portion of their federal Medicaid funding by cutting $880 billion dollars from the program over 10 years.
- Frees states to kick “otherwise eligible” people off Medicaid once federal funding becomes block-grants – which are likely to diminish over time.
- Frees middle income people from the ACA subsidies, “replacing them with far more meager tax credits pegged not to people’s income but to their age. Poorer people would get less than they do now, while richer people would get more.”
- Freedom for insurance companies to run wild:
- Frees insurance companies from constraints that kept them from charging older people as much as five times more than they charge younger people for insurance.
- Frees insurance companies to impose yearly and lifetime caps on what they will pay to cover illnesses – a provision that could also affect those who get their insurance through their employers.
- Frees insurance companies – in states that seek waivers – from requirements that they offer plans that cover essential benefits guaranteed under Obamacare, things like “such as emergency services, hospitalization, mental health care, preventive care, maternity care, and substance abuse treatment.”
- Frees insurance companies from having to give coverage to those with preexisting conditions and will allow them to charge them dramatically more if they do offer such coverage. It establishes expensive and inefficient “high-risk” pools for those with preexisting conditions while failing to offer adequate funding to cover the number of people who suffer from chronic illnesses.
- Frees insurance companies to set higher deductibles for patients.
- Frees insurance companies to reinstate medical underwriting so that when “you apply for insurance you’ll have to document every condition or ailment you’ve ever had,” which in turn allows the insurers to identify your preexisting conditions and either deny coverage or charge you a fortune.
- Freedom for rich people to sock it away:
- Frees families making more that $250,000 a year from paying billions of dollars in taxes.
So much freedom. This version of Trumpcare isn’t too likely to survive the Senate. But we better never forget that Rep. Wagner tried to give us freedom Donald Trump style. Someone, somewhere (I can’t recall where) called her freedom scream her “let them eat cake moment.” Me, personally, I think of the Howard Dean scream – if her opponents don’t play this nasty little performance over and over again in TV ads next year, they’re fools.
Maybe Trumpcare might just help free Ann Wagner too. Free her from her current job, that is.