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Politics Old Truth Trips Up G.O.P.: A Benefit Is Hard to Retract

12:06  18 july  2017
12:06  18 july  2017 Source:   nytimes.com

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In the end, Republicans relearned a lesson that has bedeviled them since the New Deal: An American entitlement, once established, can almost never be retracted . A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A10 of the New York edition with the headline: Old Truth Trips Up G . O . P .: A Benefit Is

18.07.2017. Republicans relearned a lesson that has bedeviled them since the New Deal: An American entitlement, once established, can almost never be retracted .

President Franklin D. Roosevelt speaks in Providence, RI on Oct. 21, 1936.© Globe Photographer/The Boston Globe via Getty Images President Franklin D. Roosevelt speaks in Providence, RI on Oct. 21, 1936.

WASHINGTON — In the end, Republicans relearned a lesson that has bedeviled them since the New Deal: An American entitlement, once established, can almost never be retracted.

Since the day the Affordable Care Act passed Congress, Republicans have vowed to overturn it. In the beginning, many voters were with them, handing the Republican Party some of the tools: a sweeping rejection of House Democrats in 2010 — a rejection of government reach — followed by the Senate in 2014.

But in the intervening years, as millions of Americans have become insured under the law that was derisively tagged with President Barack Obama’s name, the health care program has become more and more popular, even with Republican governors.

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Republicans relearned a lesson: An American entitlement, once established, can almost never be retracted . This @jestei cuts to the chase: Above all else, this is why the G . O . P .'s (deeply flawed) health bill failed.

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In red states where Mr. Obama and Democrats remain highly unpopular, the law’s reach into American lives could not be denied. This was true for communities ravaged by the opioid crisis, which health care money helped treat; for rural states where hospitals had become all but dependent on increased Medicaid payments that covered the bulk of their patients; and for poor constituents with chronic medical conditions who had come to take it as an article of faith that their insurance companies could not deny them coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said she was besieged by constituents who urged her to oppose the Republican plan: a conservative Republican who was worried about the impact on her grandson, who has cystic fibrosis; a small-business owner in a town where the hospital depends on Medicaid for more than 60 percent of its revenues and is the second-largest employer; a working single mother and her 9-year-old daughter who, for the first time in the girl’s life, were both able to get affordable insurance.

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-- “ Old Truth Trips Up G . O . P . on Health Law: A Benefit Is Hard to Retract ,” by the New York Times's Jennifer Steinhauer: “In the end, Republicans relearned a lesson that has bedeviled them since the New Deal: An American entitlement, once established, can almost never be retracted .”

NYT’S JENNIFER STEINHAUER, News Analysis on A10: “ Old Truth Trips Up G . O . P . on Health Law: A Benefit Is Hard to Retract ”: “In the end, Republicans relearned a lesson that has bedeviled them since the New Deal: An American entitlement, once established, can almost never be retracted .

Congressional Republicans, emboldened by their narrow majority, pushed their luck from Day 1. Not content simply to pull apart the health care law, they took the repeal efforts as a license to make broad-based changes to Medicaid, with provisions that would have capped spending annually and ended the open-ended entitlement for the poor after 50 years, without so much as a public hearing. This was a bridge too far for moderate Republicans and those from states where the party commands fierce loyalty but where poor residents benefit in some form from the law.

Republicans had a math problem on both ends.

On the right, senators like Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah were going to be satisfied only with a bill that repealed the Affordable Care Act in its entirety.

But senators from states that had expanded their Medicaid programs — like Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Rob Portman of Ohio and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — had to contend with alarmed governors and other state officials who faced the choice of leaving constituents uncovered or raising taxes to extend their insurance. Attempts to mollify them were largely unsuccessful: Ms. Murkowski, for example, was awarded a special provision to compensate for the expected explosion of premiums in her state. But this concession also exposed her to potential criticisms of legislative kickbacks.

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Old Truth Trips Up G . O . P . on Health Law: A Benefit Is Hard to Retract . As millions of Americans have become insured under what is known as Obamacare, the health law has become more popular, even with Republican governors.

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The process itself was not helpful. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, tried to work with a select group of senators who largely represented a conservative view. But without hearings, committee work or a public drafting of the bill — all marks of the original health care law — members on both sides of the divide felt bruised and left out.

Congressional Republicans got little help from the White House, which was at turns disengaged and counterproductive. White House officials and many Republicans seemed to be more dedicated to their true love, changes to the tax system, than to their flirtation with health care.

There was no attempt to work with Democrats, who had no intention of repealing the law. Yet this left Republicans unable to alternately woo or terrify red-state Democrats into lending a helping hand.

Now, it is likely they have no choice. Republicans will probably have to do what Mr. McConnell predicted earlier this month: offer an olive branch and work quickly with Democrats to shore up ailing online health care marketplaces. From there, members of both parties have said they want to tweak the existing law to help small businesses and reduce premiums.

But until then, the health program known as Obamacare remains the law of the land.

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