Gearing up for a Substantial Fight Over Health Care

Mar 9, 2017

Republicans in the U.S. House unveiled the American Health Care Act this week. The act is the GOP replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. House Speaker Paul Ryan called the plan an "act of mercy," to help those who depend on the ACA which he says is imploding. House Minority Leader, Democrat Nancy Pelosi says the plan "couldn't be worse."

In this edition of River to River, host Emily Woodbury talks with Rachel Caufield, associate professor of political science at Drake University and Dave Andersen, assistant professor of political science at Iowa State University about what lies ahead in the debate over health care.

"I think we can expect a pretty substantial fight," says Caufield. She points out that the GOP can lose 21 votes in the House and still pass the bill, but in the Senate they can only lose 2 votes. "President Trump has said he supports the bill but there is deep dissent with the republican party itself, about the provisions of the new bill."

For example, the House Freedom Caucus, a group of tea party republicans first elected in 2010, have expressed deep concern over the bill. Senators have very publicly called for the bill to be slowed down so that there's a more reasoned debate. Some are concerned that the Congressional Budget Office hasn't yet completed any estimates regarding the policy implications are for these changes.

"There's going to be a knock-down, drag-out fight in the Senate and in the House," Andersen says.

While Democrats will likely oppose anything the GOP supports, he predicts there's going to be a fight within the Republican party. "I think the Democrats are going to sit back in absolute glee and watch them struggle to do what the Democats did eight years ago," says Andersen.

Woodbury also asks Caufield and Andersen about President Trump's latest executive order on immigration, the cases likely to come before the U.S. Supreme Court and the upcoming confirmation hearings for federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch.