As Senate Republicans aim to force a vote on their version of Trumpcare — a bill that was written in secret, without public hearings, despite the fact that it will reshape one-sixth of the U.S. economy and impact the lives of millions of Americans — most people have been left in the dark.
Last month, the House passed their version of the bill, which would strip health care from 24 million people, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The bill also makes major cuts and structural changes to Medicaid, a health insurance program relied upon by nearly 75 million Americans — primarily low-income, disabled, and elderly.
The Senate version of Trumpcare goes even further, according to the draft released by Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Thursday, effectively phasing out Medicaid entirely.
But according to a new poll released by the Kaiser Family Foundation on Friday, only 38 percent of Americans are aware of the significant cuts to Medicaid that would be delivered by the House-passed bill (the poll was conducted before the details of the Senate bill were made public). Seventy-four percent of those polled, meanwhile, said they have a favorable opinion of Medicaid.
The KFF poll notes that “proposed Medicaid changes were not initially a major point of discussion surrounding consideration of the House bill… which may partly explain why many respondents were unaware of its effect.”
The Senate’s harsher Medicaid cuts were immediately met with fierce objections, however. Roughly 60 members of ADAPT, a U.S. disability rights organization that strongly opposes the Republican health care bill, staged a die-in outside of McConnell’s office on Thursday. Wheelchair users were arrested and dragged from the Capitol by police.
Moderate Republicans have also expressed their discomfort with the severe cuts to Medicaid, with the strongest objection thus far coming from Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) on Friday. “I cannot support a piece of legislation that takes away insurance from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans,” the senator said at a press conference in Las Vegas.
Hours later, America First Policies — a pro-Trump group run by several of the president’s top campaign advisers — announced it was launching a seven-figure advertising campaign against Heller, Politico reported. Heller is widely viewed as one of the most vulnerable incumbents up for reelection in 2018.
Ironically, President Donald Trump made protecting Medicaid a key component of his campaign, vowing to “save Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security without cuts” in the speech announcing his candidacy.
Trump told the Washington Post’s Abby Phillip that the Senate version of Trumpcare needed “a little negotiation, but it’s going to be very good.” The president reportedly made calls to Senate Republicans on Friday to try to gin up support for the measure. Trump acknowledged there is a “very, very narrow path” to passage, but that “I think we’re going to get there,” Reuters reported.