Op-ed: Democrats borrowed a Republican structure for health care reform that even the GOP doesn’t like

J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell leaves the chamber after announcing the release of the Republicans’ healthcare bill which represents the party’s long-awaited attempt to scuttle much of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 22, 2017.

The morning after Mitch McConnell finally released the details of the Senate’s secret health-care legislation, I was listening to an NPR interview with David O. Barbe, president of the American Medical Association. He was explaining all the reasons why the AMA is opposed to this horrendous piece of legislation. At one point, the interviewer asked him if there was any part of the bill that he liked. He paused for a few seconds to consider the question, then answered, “No.”

As was the case with the House’s attempt at health care reform, the Senate’s plan will be opposed by virtually all medical, insurance and retiree organizations. Any piece of legislation that gives huge tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires and corporations, and pays for it by cutting health care for the poor, the elderly and the disabled is not just “mean,” as Trump labeled the House bill (after having celebrated its passage), but is economically problematic on multiple levels.

So, how did the Republicans paint themselves in this particular corner? We have to go back a few years to answer this question. In 1993, in response to first lady Hillary Clinton’s effort to enact health-care reform, the Republicans came up with an alternative called HEART (Health Equity and Access Reform Today). Its point man was Sen. John Chafee, but it was co-sponsored by 20 Republican senators, including Utah’s own Orrin Hatch. The Chafee bill had five central features:

• An individual mandate

• Creation of purchasing pools

• Standardized benefits

• Vouchers for the poor to buy insurance

• A ban on denying coverage based on a pre-existing conditions.

This list should look familiar. Politifact compared HEART with the ACA and…

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