Meet the Republicans who oppose Trumpcare

For some it goes too far; for others, it doesn’t go far enough.

Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Justin Amash (R-MI), and Raul Labrador (R-ID). CREDIT: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Justin Amash (R-MI), and Raul Labrador (R-ID). CREDIT: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

House Republicans have finally unveiled their plan to undo Obamacare, but not all congressional Republicans are on board with the controversial new plan.

For some, the plan is still too liberal. Members of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), a caucus of 170 House conservatives, prepared an analysis critiquing the plan with “major concerns” that it’s too similar to Obamacare. For example, the RSC memo objects to the fact that the plan extends Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion for three years. This, it argues, “will contribute to the worsening of the federal and state budgets” and will leave “the federal government picking up the majority of the bill.”

These members simply do not want the federal government spending money to help the lowest-income Americans afford health coverage. In fact, they chide supporters of the plan for allowing the Medicaid expansion to “avoid the political consequences and pain of unwinding expansion.” Apparently, making it so that some 11 million Americans can no longer afford or access health insurance isn’t politically popular, but it’s still what some of these Congressional Republicans would prefer on principle.

Likewise, the RSC memo objects to the new plan offering tax credits to help people access health insurance through individual plans. “Writing checks to individuals to purchase insurance is, in principle, Obamacare,” the memo states. Even though it acknowledges that this approach “does allow more choices for individuals” and “is more patient-centered,” it’s still not acceptable because the federal government simply shouldn’t “fund insurance purchases.” Freedom means people being left to fend for themselves.

Among those unimpressed by the plan are Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who called it “Obamacare by a different form”; Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA), who complained that he’s seen “no evidence that this bill will bring the cost curve down”; and Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), who called it “Obamacare 2.0.”

Some of these members have openly said that they wouldn’t support the legislation in its current form, but it’s unclear how many are willing to take such a stance against it. House Republicans can only afford to lose 21 votes, assuming all Democrats vote against it.

Meanwhile, however, several Republican Senators object to the new Trumpcare plan for being too conservative. In fact, on some of the same points the RSC complains that the legislation doesn’t go far enough, these Senators think it goes too far.

Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Monday evening expressing “concerns” that the drafted plan “does not adequately protect individuals and families in Medicaid expansion programs or provide necessary flexibility for states.”

Though the Senators explain that they support repealing Obamacare, they’re worried about the many people who lose Medicaid coverage from a “poorly implemented or poorly timed change in the current funding structure.” Any replacement plan, they argue, must allow for “a stable transition period and the opportunity to gradually phase-in their populations to any new Medicaid financing structure.”

“We will not support a plan that does not include stability for Medicaid expansion populations or flexibility for states,” they write.

That could be a serious problem in the Senate, where Republicans can only afford to lose three votes. Losing those four would prevent the legislation from passing.

In short, Republicans throughout Congress seem to be torn between their fiscally conservative ideological principles and the political pressure to actually ensure their constituents continue to have access to health care. Apparently, those town halls are making an impression.

UPDATE: There are now some Republicans in the Senate who are also opposing the bill for being too liberal. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) called it “Obamacare Lite” and said that “it will not pass.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) similarly called the bill a “missed opportunity and step in wrong direction”

If Paul and Lee refuse to vote for it, Senate Republicans can‘t lose any more votes if they expect the bill to pass.