On the Saturday before the Republicans’ attempt at health care reform fizzled, Rep. Glenn Thompson announced he had concerns about his party’s bill and was leaning toward voting “no.” The bill got much worse before collapsing on Friday, but Thompson eventually found excuses to support it.
I was one of four constituents who met with Thompson on Monday morning that week. Thompson said he was still a “no,” but was working to negotiate improvements before voting. Later that afternoon, Speaker Paul Ryan did indeed announce a package of changes. However, the changes made things worse, as determined by the Congressional Budget Office: the new version would cost a lot more, but didn’t change the 24 million Americans expected to lose insurance. That Thursday, at the request of ultra-conservatives, the president gutted the health insurance products available in the non-group market by eliminating the required coverage of 10 essential health benefits, including prescriptions, maternity care and substance abuse treatment. By Friday, as the Centre Daily Times reported, Thompson was ready to support the mess that Republican factions threw together that week.
In explaining Thompson’s intention to vote “yes,” his staff only pointed out changes that reduced harms to constituents — needed only because Republicans wrote a bill giving tax breaks to corporations and the rich, instead of actually improving health insurance. The staff didn’t mention all the harms that were added or remained, including for 50,000 constituents who would have lost insurance.
Pam Short, State College