As people began to digest the Republican health care plan on Tuesday, a few things became clear:
1. “This isn’t an Obamacare repeal, it’s a Medicaid repeal,” as the political writer Jonathan Allen put it.
Many Republicans have long viewed Medicaid — a health insurance program for the poor, the disabled and some elderly — with skepticism. This plan would make very large cuts to the program. The details are somewhat technical, and Edwin Park of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains them. But the real-world effects will be concrete: Many people will lose coverage, and some kinds of care, if the bill becomes law.
2. Conservative policy experts hate the bill, and the criticisms come from both the far right and the center right.
Peter Suderman of Reason had an excellent frame for understanding the right’s civil war over health care: Conservatives don’t even agree on what their goals are. Making health care less expensive? Reducing the government’s role? Ensuring that the poor receive fewer subsidies?
Lacking this agreement, many Republicans have pretended that a magical health plan exists, one that would cover everyone, provide good insurance and cost less money. Wouldn’t that be nice!