America’s healthcare system has been broken for a long time now – and it’s not hard to see why. Despite laying claim to some of the world’s most brilliant medical minds and magical miracle treatments, the remarkable divide between those who can and cannot afford even the most basic medical procedures has transformed the gift of good health into some sort of sick and twisted caste system.
Last night, that divide got a little bit bigger.
It’s taken seven gruelling years, but bloodthirsty conservatives were finally able to take a huge step forward in their increasingly fanatical quest to eradicate Barack Obama’s well-meaning Affordable Care Act on Thursday after securing a rushed, paper-thin majority approving the bill they think should replace it: the American Health Care Act.
In case you’ve not been paying attention, this is the second time Republicans have tried to push through this particular bill – which is essentially just a bastardised and cold-hearted version of its liberal predecessor. The American Healthcare Act explicitly benefits healthy, high-income people by cutting back taxes for the rich and phasing out Medicaid expansions that would have helped poor people get access to affordable healthcare.
It’s also designed to remove Obamacare’s much-reviled individual mandate that punishes people who don’t purchase insurance, allows states to withhold coverage to all unemployed, able-bodied adults and axes rules that prevent insurance giants from turning away old people and those with pre-existing conditions.
A few bits of Obamacare, such as the provision that allows kids to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26, are staying put. And in order to win over wary, moderate Republicans this time around, Trump and his crony Paul Ryan decided to commit some $8bn worth of extra funding to help states create local hardship funds for the absolute sickest of the sick. Even then, 20 Republican lawmakers still refused to back the bill on Thursday.
Why? Because like it or not, they know a decent chunk of GOP voters directly benefit from Obamacare. And if this flaming pile of crap were to actually get enshrined into law, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reckons it would see at least 24 million Americans lose their insurance coverage by 2026. That’s even more people than Obamacare has claimed to have helped since it was signed into law in 2010.
Translation: if you think the American healthcare system sucks right now, just you wait until Republicans are allowed to smear their grubby little fingers all over it. Things are going to go from bad to worse pretty damn quickly.
Fortunately, the chances of the American Healthcare Act actually making it onto the Resolute Desk for Donald Trump’s gaudy signature are virtually null. As it currently stands, the half-baked bill simply is not strong enough to survive its next challenge on the Senate floor – and to be honest, The Donald probably already knows that.
Donald Trump's first 100 days: in cartoons
Donald Trump's first 100 days: in cartoons
Donald Trump's first 100 days in office were marred by a string of scandals, many of which caught the eye of the Independent's cartoonists
Trump's first 100 days have seen him aggressively ramp up tensions with his nuclear rivals in North Korea
Mr Trump has warned of a "major, major conflict" with the pariah nation lead by Kim Jong Un
Mr Trump dropped the "mother of all bombs" on alleged ISIS-linked militants in Afghanistan, amid an escalation of US military intervention around the globe
Mr Trump has been accused of falling short of the standards set by his predecessors in the Oval Office, including Franklin D Roosevelt
The tycoon's ascension to the White House came at a time when the balance of power is shifting away from Western nations like those in the G7 group
Western politicians, including the British Conservative party, have been accused of falling in line behind Mr Trump's proposals
Brexit is seen to have weakened Britain, reducing still further any political will to resist American leadership
Mr Trump's leadership has been marked by sudden and unexpected shifts in global policy
Trump's controversial missile strike on Syria, which killed several citizens, was seen by some analysts as an attempt to distract from his policy elsewhere
The President has also spent a large majority of his weekends golfing, rather than attending to matters of state
Though free of gaffes, a visit from Chinese president Xi Jinping spotlighted trade tensions between the two states
One major and unexpected setback came when Mr Trump's Healthcare Bill was struck down by members of his own party
Mr Trump has been a figure of fun in the media, with his approval at record lows
A string of revelations about Mr Trump's financial indiscretions did not mar his surge to the White House
Outgoing President Barack Obama was accused of wiretapping Trump Tower by his successor in America's highest office
The alleged involvement of Russian intelligence operatives in securing Mr Trump the presidency prompted harsh criticism
The explosive resignation of Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who lied about his links to the Russian ambassador, was just one scandal to hit the President
Many scandals, such as the accusation Barack Obama was implicated in phone-hacking, first broke on Mr Trump's Twitter feed
Donald Trump's election provoked mass protests in the UK, with millions signing a petition to ban him from the country
Donald Trump cited a non-existent terror attack in Sweden during a campaign rally
Donald Trump stands accused of stoking regional tensions in Eastern Asia
North Korea has launched a number of failed nuclear tests since Mr Trump took power
Theresa May formally rejected the petition calling for Mr Trump to be banned from the UK
When Mr Trump's initial so-called Muslim ban was struck down by a federal justice, the President mocked the 69-year-old as a "ridiculous", "so-called judge"
A week after his inauguration, Theresa May met with Mr Trump at the White House
Donald Trump's first days in office were marked by a hasty attempt to follow through on many of his campaign promises, including the so-called Muslim ban
Donald Trump's decision to ban citizens of many majority-Muslim countries from the US sparked mass protests
Revelations about Donald Trump's sexual improprieties were not enough to keep him from being elected President
British PM Theresa May was criticised by many in the press for cosying up to the new President
One of Mr Trump's top aides, Kelly Anne Conway, was mocked for describing mistruths as "alternative facts"
British PM Theresa May was quick to demonstrate that her political aims did not hugely differ from Mr Trump's
Donald Trump's inauguration, on 20 January 2017, sparked protests both at home and abroad
You see, the upper house is chock-full of procedural buzzsaws that are ergonomically designed to preserve the status quo and prevent any sort of change. And on top of that, there are a handful of GOP moderates wasting space on Capitol Hill who are already panicking over their re-election chances in 2018. You don’t have to be a political genius to suss out that supporting a callous bill designed to send millions of voters to their untimely deaths isn’t fantastic PR.
Still, none of that means Obamacare is out of the woods. This permutation of Trump’s self-serving healthcare plan might die a slow and painful death in the weeks to come – but the blind hatred and misguided fear that have been driving this bill will inevitably continue to resurface again and again throughout the months and years to come until something or someone eventually gives.
You’d better strap yourselves in, because it looks like this fight is only just getting started.Reuse content