Marco Rubio Blames Media "Misinformation" After Terrible Obamacare Repeal Plan's Delay

After six years of screaming about repealing Obamacare, the GOP hilariously fell on its face this week. There are a multitude of reasons Sen. Mitch McConnell shockingly delayed a vote on the American Health Care Act: the gaping schism between conservative Republicans who want to slash all spending and moderates who don't, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office finding that 20 million-plus people would lose insurance while the rich get giant tax cuts, and — most important — the huge majority of voters who despise the plan.

One factor that definitely didn't kill the bill, though, is #FakeNews. But Sen. Marco Rubio — who was poised to vote for a plan that would have left hundreds of thousands in his home state of Florida without health coverage — took a page out of Donald Trump's playbook this morning by blasting the media, not his own train wreck of a governing party, after the failure.

"While working draft of health care bill needs to be improved," Rubio wrote in the first of a petulant tweetstorm this morning, "the level of misinformation being spread by some in the media is alarming."

Oh, really? Please tell us more, Marco. Because it seems like what is going on here is that a GOP built around obstructing President Barack Obama and promising to undo every major piece of his legislation has no idea how to create a counterplan now that it has almost total power.

McConnell and the Republican Senate leadership crafted their Obamacare repeal with a comical level of secrecy, to the point that senior figures such as John McCain had no idea what was in the plan until the last moment.

After Trump campaigned on a repeal that would lead to cheaper and better coverage without touching Medicaid or Medicare and leaving no one out in the cold on insurance, the GOP's bill did basically the opposite. The devastating CBO report released Monday shows that 22 million people would become uninsured, that elderly and poor people would pay far more for premiums, and that coverage on many plans would shrink.

Those numbers are not the result of a progressive think tank or a Democratic hit job. They're from a nonpartisan office devoted to simply crunching the numbers.

The public's distrust of the bill is also difficult to overstate. A national Politico poll out today shows that only 38 percent of voters like the plan — and that number came before Monday's CBO report.

Behind the scenes, meanwhile, insiders describe a messy, politically incompetent GOP where senior members had no idea what was happening with the plan and where Trump's impulsive leadership further sowed chaos.

But Rubio says the real problem here is the media overinflating the bill's risk to Floridians. His main contention is that the press has overstated how many people in the state would lose insurance under the plan.

"Multiple Florida outlets are talking about cuts to Florida Medicaid and loss of coverage by over 1 million Medicaid patients," Rubio writes on Twitter.

He then offers a truly eyeball-melting series of arguments about what's really going on:
Got all that? Rubio is essentially splitting hairs by arguing a million Floridians won't lose coverage — they simply won't be offered it in the first place!

Also, Rubio seems to be explicitly referencing the Center For American Progress study that New Times wrote about yesterday. The left-leaning center found that 1.2 million Floridians would be dropped from Medicaid. But Rubio's argument is wrong on its face — the CAP explicitly took into account the uncertainty over Medicaid expansion when calculating its numbers.

Rubio's essential argument is that many of those included in dropped Medicaid numbers would simply never enroll because the AHCA would eliminate the mandate for insurance and the federal subsidies for expanded Medicaid. And, yes, some of those 1 million people are probably the fabled healthy and wealthy 25-year-old millennials who simply want to dodge insurance and pay out of pocket when they get the flu.

But studies seem clear that many, many hundreds of thousands of others would be the working poor who would be left behind by the GOP's $800 billion cuts to Medicaid. That includes more than 200,000 poor children, who are probably less concerned with Rubio's academic arguments about the vagaries of the free insurance market than they are about how in hell they're supposed to get basic medical care.

Rubio might have some valid bones to pick about the nitty-gritty details of Floridians who will be booted off Medicaid versus those who chose to skip coverage. But the simple fact is that the Senate's plan would gut spending on care for the poor and elderly in service of a tax cut for the rich. That's not open for debate.

For a party supposedly built on personal responsibility, Rubio doesn't seem very interested in accepting that the GOP has built a horrible bill supported by very few.
Don't worry, Marco, we're not expecting a link back to this article.

Correction: An earlier version of this story's headline misstated Rubio's argument about the media.
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink