What's in a name? Republicans don't want their Obamacare repeal to be labeled "Trumpcare" or "Ryancare"
"The minute you call it by a politician's name, it becomes vulnerable," said Newt Gingrich
"Obamacare" started out as a derisive name from Republicans to Obama's health care effort
The White House says don’t call it “Trumpcare.” Critics are labeling it “Ryancare” and “Obamacare lite.” Hospitals hate it and insurers are pushing the panic button.
The House GOP bill to repeal Obamacare is quickly becoming a bill that nobody wants to own.
Since its introduction this week, legislation from top House Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has drawn a flood of opposition from lawmakers and a range of health care leaders and industry stakeholders, including major doctors and hospital groups. While the bill’s writers and the White House confidently insist that the plan will pass, they have been far less eager to put their names on it.
GOP Rep. Kevin Brady, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and a key author of the Obamacare bill along with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Greg Walden, smiled and paused Thursday afternoon when asked by CNN about the nicknames “Trumpcare” and “Ryancare.”
When another reporter suggested “Bradycare,” the congressman chuckled and joked: “You know, you’ll never get invited back to this, OK?”
“I don’t care what it’s called – I just want to give Americans affordable health care that they choose,” Brady said before walking away.
Earlier in the week, senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway resisted calling the bill “Trumpcare.”
“I didn’t hear President Trump say to any of us, ‘Hey, I want my name on that,’” Conway said on Fox News. “This is serious stuff. It’s not about branding according to someone’s name.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price suggested an alternative. “I prefer to call it Patient Care. This is about patients, at the end of the day,” the former congressman and physician told reporters at the White House this week.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, an adviser to Trump, told CNN that the White House is “exactly right” to reject the name “Trumpcare.”
“The minute you call it by a politician’s name, it becomes vulnerable. … If it refers to you, then they oppose the bill,” Gingrich said. “What they want to do is find a way to get something out in the open where you’re arguing over the ideas and not the personalities.”
When former President Barack Obama began to craft a major health care overhaul legislation soon after taking the office, Republicans and critics began negatively referring to the bill as “Obamacare,” a name that has stuck to this day. (Obama eventually came around to the nickname, saying: “I do care”).
The widespread wariness about having the Obamacare repeal bill named after any one person in the party comes amid mounting criticism of the legislation. It’s a clear sign of the grave political ramifications of the GOP efforts to overhaul a health care system that has provided coverage to some 20 million people – and how much will be at stake in upcoming elections if Republicans’ plan leads to millions of people losing their insurance.
Similarly, critics of the new GOP legislation are determined to make names like “Trumpcare” and “Ryancare” stick.
The conservative Club for Growth released a statement this week opposing the GOP bill and referring to it as “Ryancare,” while Democratic lawmakers have long since taken to calling it “Trumpcare.”
“Trumpcare, simply put, is a mess that gives you less for more. And Trumpcare doesn’t discriminate against which Americans it hurts,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday. “Trumpcare means higher costs and less coverage. Are you a woman? Trumpcare means higher costs and less coverage.”
Bill moving forward quickly, but not without opposition
The House bill has met fierce resistance from conservatives in the lower chamber. They are urging the party to take a vote on a “clean repeal” bill rather than attempt to include replacement measures in one package.
After sessions that totaled 45 hours Wednesday and Thursday, two House committees approved the Ryan-led bill, and the House Budget panel is expected to take it up next week. But Monday, the Congressional Budget Office is set to deliver its report, which is likely to show the bill will cut health insurances from millions of people.
And even if the legislation makes it through the House, its prospects are shaky in the Senate,– where Republicans have a razor-thin majority.
GOP Sen. Tom Cotton tweeted Thursday morning: “House health-care bill can’t pass Senate w/o major changes. To my friends in House: pause, start over. Get it right, don’t get it fast.”
Sen. John Thune told CNN that there are “lots of ways to fix and amend” the House bill in the Senate.
“I just think you have to have an opportunity for members of the Senate to have their input,” Thune said.
Sen. John McCain, who has long urged his fellow GOP colleagues to take things slow on health care reform, said this week that the two chambers are fundamentally different.
“I think (the House Obamacare bill) is a good blueprint but we have a lot of examination to do,” McCain said. “And that’s why we’re the Senate and they’re the House.”