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Sunday, May 07, 2017


Revenge of the Sick

by Tom Sullivan

Even before the vote in the U.S. House of Representatives this week to pass the American Health Care Act, 2018 began shaping up to be a year in which Republicans could take big losses in the mid-term elections. Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced last Sunday that she would retire from representing Florida's 27th District. Hillary Clinton won the district by 20 points in November. "It was Clinton's biggest margin of any Republican-held seat in the country," the Miami Herald reported.

With a "new" Miami electorate" made up of "younger Cubans, non-Cuban Hispanics, and socially liberal whites living in and around Miami Beach," the district is "moving away from the national GOP at warp speed," according to the Cook Political Report. Cook moved FL-27 into the lean Democratic column.

Ros-Lehtinen's district is not unique. Democrats need 24 seats to win back the House in 2018. Twenty-three Republicans hold seats in districts Hillary Clinton won in November.

The New York Times today examines what that means for 2018:

All seven of the House Republicans from California who represent districts that Mr. Trump lost voted for the bill, a collective act of political audacity in a state simmering with anger toward the president. While Mrs. Clinton won Representative Carlos Curbelo’s Miami district by 16 percentage points, he also voted yes. And other Republican lawmakers who represent districts that decisively rejected Mr. Trump, like Mr. Roskam and Martha E. McSally of Arizona, supported the measure.

All told, 80 House Republicans from districts Mr. Trump carried by 55 percent or less voted for the health law’s repeal. “Any Republican member of Congress in a seat that the president won by less than 10 points who isn’t concerned needs to be concerned,” said Glen Bolger, a Republican pollster.
Emerging from what the Times calls Democrats' "eight-year defensive crouch," strategists with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are focused on "more than 90 districts where Mr. Trump earned less than 55 percent of the vote." What remains a wild card is how many Republican lawmakers serving under an historically unpopular president will follow Ros-Lehtinen into retirement. After publicly celebrating their vote Thursday to repeal Obamacare and replace it with, essentially, what people had before or worse, more Republicans in the House might find it's time to spend more time with their families.

As Simon Malloy observed at The Week, should some form of the House legislation make it into law, Republican-controlled legislatures will have to decide whether to vote to "screw over the sick" as their House colleagues did:
The legislation empowers state governments to seek waivers to pre-existing condition protections. Now that the AHCA has passed the House, Republican governors and state legislators are going to face difficult questions about whether they support this widely disliked bill and plan to obtain waivers that would actively imperil the physical and financial well-being of sick people within their states.
It is all well and good to preach that government closest to the people serves the people best so long as the people are kept at arm's length. But it will be a different game both in the states and nationally when people without access start dying ... again. Republican congresspersons are finding that out already:
A conservative Republican congressman from Idaho is drawing criticism for his response to a town-hall attendee’s concerns about how his party’s health-care bill would affect Medicaid recipients.

“You are mandating people on Medicaid to accept dying,” the woman said.

“That line is so indefensible,” said Rep. Raúl R. Labrador, a member of the influential House Freedom Caucus. “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”

The boos instantly drowned him out.
Good luck selling that.

A activist friend here lost here 33 year-old son in 2008. He had an uninsurable birth defect that predisposed him to colon cancer. He died from that. She's not at all shy about getting up in politicians' faces about it. If the Senate passes and Trump signs the AHCA, a lot of people are going to be getting in their faces about it.

It will be a helluva way for the Democrats to win back control of the House, if they don't join Republicans in shooting themselves in the foot first. But I'll take it.