No Credibility: AMA, AARP Oppose GOP's Replacement Bill...After Endorsing Obamacare

Posted: Mar 09, 2017 1:05 PM

Liberals and their allies in the mainstream media are getting a lot of mileage out of 'anti-endorsements' for the Republican healthcare bill from the American Medical Association (AMA) and American Association of Retired Persons (now known simply as AARP). In some reports, these developments are being treated as devastating blows -- as if the the organizations involved are the ultimate arbiters of expert, apolitical opinion from key constituencies: American doctors, and American seniors. But these groups are once again acting in a highly politicized manner. The AMA supported the passage of Obamacare, even though a critical mass (if not a plurality) of doctors opposed that doomed program; AARP did, too, despite a clear majority of senior citizens consistently being against the bill, and even though the legislation looted hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicare funding to "pay for" a new entitlement program.  Cynical double-counting of those "savings" was one of Democrats' most shameless Obamacare accounting gimmicks.  So the AMA lent its imprimatur to a costly law that has made costs more expensive and care less accessible for millions. Perhaps worse, AARP bestowed its blessing upon a program that hurt the very population it ostensibly exists to represent and protect.  Allegations that its support was 'bought and paid for' endure to this day.  In its statement on the new legislation, AARP speculates that it would 'raise premiums and weaken Medicare.'  Obamacare, which they championed, verifiably resulted in those exact outcomes.  

Either progressive politics were placed above sound decisions, or each group exhibited extremely poor judgment about how the legislation they backed would play out in practice.  Regardless if one or both of those explanations is true, one might refer to the organizations' liberal agenda and/or terrible policy assessments a "pre-existing condition" that colors the credibility of their newly-announced rejection of the GOP replacement plan.  Their credibility on such matters is in serious doubt today, given their choices to aid and abet Obamacare in 2009 and 2010.  Please recall that it was at the American Medical Association that President Obama issued some of his clearest assertions about what his signature law would not do to people who preferred to keep their existing plans and doctors.  His lies (and yes, they were lies) were met with rapturous applause by the AMA audience:

"We will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor.  Period.  [Applause].  If you like your healthcare plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan.  Period.  No one will take it away, no matter what. [Applause]."

Falsehood after falsehood. Speaking of which, in the same AMA address, he also said, "if we fail to act, premiums will climb higher."  Well, they acted, and premiums and other costs have exploded -- and Democrats' subsequent "but the rate of increase slowed" talking point (a) skims over the fact that they promised sharply reduced costs, and (b) inaccurately pretends that the slowdown as attributable to the "Affordable" Care Act.  Very little of what the former president claimed in that speech, and in general on healthcare, turned out to be accurate.  The proof is in the lived experience of the millions of Obamacare victims being harmed by the law, who outnumber its beneficiaries.  And the proof is in the data released by the Obama administration itself last October.  The American Medical Association, which lent its brand to the passage of the current mess, is now doing so again to protect the failing status quo.  And the liberal AARP, which also helps lead the scare-mongering charge against desperately-needed entitlement reforms for future seniors, is unsurprisingly along for the ride.  When the chips are down, these groups let their Team Blue flags fly.  It's their right to do so, but they shouldn't be treated or regarded as neutral actors.

Parting Thought: The Trump White House is preemptively attacking the credibility of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, whose much-anticipated "score" of the GOP legislation is expected project significantly fewer people covered (unlike Democrats, Republicans are not peddling an "all winners, no losers, all good news, no bad news!" fantasy to voters). Nonpartisan scorekeepers do important work, so attacking CBO's overall credibility isn't a wise move.  That said, it's not unfair to point out (as Sean Spicer did) that CBO badly missed the mark on estimating the cost of Obamacare over its first ten years, almost entirely because the Democrats loaded up their bill with gimmicks designed to game the scoring system.  It's also worth highlighting that CBO expected 21 million Americans who be covered through Obamacare's exchanges by this year, a projection that was off by 8-9 million people.  It turns out that the exchanges haven't been attractive to millions of Americans who cannot afford the "Affordable" Care Act, many of whom are being forced to pay an annual tax fine for the "privilege" of remaining priced out of the market and uninsured.  Independent of whether they support every aspect of the new proposal, Republicans should not be cowed or lectured to by analyses from agenda-driven actors who were spectacularly wrong about Obamacare. On that score, I'll leave you with this: