By editorial board • 

GOP rebels spare Oregon a health care catastrophe

Oregon didn’t simply dodge a bullet this week with the collapse of the latest Republican effort to gut President Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Health Care Act. It dodged a missile taking dead aim for its already beaten and battered budget.

According to independent analyses, Oregon figured to be the hardest hit of the 50 states under Graham-Cassidy, edging New York, California, Washington and other bastions of blue. The rock-rib-red states of the Intermountain West and Deep South would have been least affected, led by reliably Republican Texas.

The bill was designed that way, of course. The aim was to secure at least 50 of the Senate’s 52 Republican votes, allowing Vice President Mike Pence to provide the 51st.

In fact, artificial sweeteners were promised to Alaska, home of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and Arizona, home of Sen. John McCain, because they joined with Sen. Susan Collins of Maine in scuttling a similar version in June.

The authors were in a hurry because Senate rules require a virtually insurmountable 60 votes from Oct. 1 on. The next 50-vote window won’t open until the summer of ‘19.

Thankfully, the GOP ended up losing not only Murkowski, McCain and Collins, but also Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, thus falling well short.

Oregon stood to lose $13 billion in federal funding over the first decade and a staggering $111 billion over 20 years. The New York Times calculated the state’s nation-leading loss at more than $2,500 per resident per year.

Nationally, the reduction in federal funding for health care was projected at $4.15 trillion over 20 years.

Graham-Cassidy figured to swell the national ranks of the uninsured by 32 million and the state ranks by 400,000 — more than one-third. It also would send insurance rates soaring and eliminate more than 20,000 health care jobs in Oregon alone.

The bill authorized states to waive protection for pre-existing conditions, and many Republican states would surely have taken advantage. That would have transformed a loss of financial benefits into a loss of life for many unlucky Americans.

The projected impact was so catastrophic, the health care industry, which had largely limited past efforts to behind-the-scenes lobbying, mounted a public assault.
Polling suggested the public was no more enamored of the hasty one-party repeal effort than the health care industry. Support seemed largely limited to hard-core political and financial supporters of President Donald Trump, who made walling off our southern border, repealing the health care act and cutting corporate taxes — each going undelivered to date — prominent pillars of his campaign.

For Republican senators, it was never about delivering health care. It was about cutting taxes, setting the stage for cutting more taxes, fulfilling a campaign promise, and, perhaps most of all, eliminating the most visible achievement of the previous presidency, consequences be damned.

Did you feel that massive whoosh? It was a mis-targeted missile bound for burial in the deep blue waters of the Pacific.

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