Sen. John Cornyn, the #2 Republican leader in the Senate, took some questions today about the GOP replacement for Obamacare. TPM’s Lauren Fox reports:
When Cornyn was asked if he was concerned about people who’ve benefited from Medicaid expansion losing coverage, he said it was a shared concern. “We’re all concerned, but it ain’t going to happen,” Cornyn said. “Will you write that down… It ain’t gonna happen.”
Reporters followed up. “You’re saying nobody’s going to lose coverage?” one asked. “Nobody’s going to lose coverage,” Cornyn said. “Obviously, people covered today will continue to be covered. And, the hope is we’ll expand access. Right now 30 million people are not covered under Obamacare.”
When you’re dealing with Republicans and health care, you have to be mighty careful. Cornyn didn’t say that people covered by Medicaid would continue to be covered by Medicaid. He just said they’d be “covered.” This could mean anything. It could mean giving the poor a $1,000 refundable tax credit they can use toward buying coverage on the open market, which would be useless. It could mean giving the poor access to tax-favored HSAs and catastrophic coverage, which would also be useless. It could mean keeping them on Medicaid but instituting a 50 percent copay to make sure they have “skin in the game.”
Reporters need to step up their game. If they’re going to ask about stuff like this, they have to demand enough detail for the answer to mean something. Cornyn may sound like he promised something here, but he didn’t. And I assure you he chose his words very carefully.