WASHINGTON ― The Republican Study Committee, an influential group of House conservatives, called it “a Republican welfare entitlement.” Conservative advocacy group FreedomWorks, a major force on the right, put it simply: “This is ObamaCare-lite.” Over at Breitbart News, the lodestar of the Trump administration, readers variously dubbed it “Ryancare,” “Obamacare 2.0,” “Soroscare” or, for the wonks, “unEarned Income Tax Credit II.”
The brewing conservative opposition to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s reform of the Affordable Care Act centers on what Ryan calls “advancable refundable tax credits” that could be used to subsidize the purchase of health insurance.
Conservatives are making the case ― quite accurately ― that such a payment is, in principle, no different than the subsidies already created by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. For a campaign based on principle, that’s a devastating critique.
The only difference, in the end, is that Ryan’s subsidies are smaller than those in the current health care law. “Writing checks to individuals to purchase insurance is, in principle, Obamacare,” concludes an RSC staff report, obtained by The Huffington Post and first reported by Bloomberg.
At its heart, Ryan’s health care plan cuts taxes for the wealthy by hundreds of billions of dollars. It does so by raiding Medicaid, a health care program that is popularly understood to benefit the poor but is also a lifeline to many elderly people. The bill also helps fund the tax cuts by raising the cost of health coverage for those over the age of 55 and those with pre-existing conditions.
But conservatives warn that the Medicaid cuts aren’t real. Ryan’s plan delays unwinding Medicaid expansion by several years, which would put the onus on a future Congress to suffer the pain.
The RSC doesn’t think that will happen.
“The future reduction is premised on a future Congress being willing to endure the political pressure of letting spending cuts go into effect,” the report warns. “It is unlikely that any future Congress will have a stronger political will in terms of reforming Obamacare entitlements than the sitting Congress – thus it is unlikely that the expansion repeal will ever be implemented in reality.”
But why would the Breitbart-inspired conservative movement take down a repeal plan pushed by Ryan and ostensibly backed by President Trump? Breitbart’s longtime honcho, Steve Bannon, has long considered Ryan an obstacle to his vision for the future of the Republican Party ― and he could use any failure to repeal and replace Obamacare against Ryan in the future.
This is a developing story and will be updated.