President Trump has asked Sen. John Barrasso and two other Republican U.S. senators to take the lead on crafting a “spectacular” health care system to replace the Affordable Care Act.

This is not good news. It would in fact be laughable if health care was not such a serious issue affecting all Americans.

Barrasso is a doctor, but he’s also been one of the most vehement opponents of “Obamacare” on Capitol Hill. He’s appeared on TV news shows regularly to bash the law but has done absolutely nothing to help it succeed.

“I’ve been working on a [health care] plan since the day I got to the Senate,” Barrasso said in a “Meet the Press” interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd last month. He was elected in 2008.

After hearing Barrasso’s braggadocio, Wyoming voters and the rest of the country have a right to ask the high-profile senator this question: “Where’s your plan?” For that matter, where’s any Republican plan?

Did the dog eat Barrasso’s homework? We’re entitled to know what he’s really been doing about the issue, other than slowly poisoning the system that millions of Americans rely on.

There are currently nearly 25,000 people in the state who get their health insurance through the ACA’s federal Health Marketplace. Our residents don’t need baseless claims or scattershot, politically motivated policy amendments — they need affordable, high quality health care.

Republicans like Barrasso have, since failing to block the original legislation, done nothing but sow doubt about its efficacy, obstruct its implementation, undermine its benefit to the American people and waste resources trying to repeal the law.

“Repeal and replace” was their mantra, but there was never any “replace” proposal. It was a sham from the beginning and Barrasso was a leading player.

Democrats and a few valiant Republicans, led by the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), stepped in and kept a monumental mistake from happening. Had the GOP been “successful” in doing President Trump’s bidding, more than 30 million Americans would have immediately lost their health insurance.

There should be no questions about why Democrats took over the House last November or why the party should regain control of the Senate in 2020 — voters recognize how critical a viable health care system is and have no faith in Republicans to deliver it.

Republicans flat out don’t get it. Barrasso and the others assigned to create this supposedly brave new health care plan — Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) — blindly parrot the absurd claims of a president who is, to put it mildly, a pathological liar.

Why would anyone in their right mind believe Trump when he promises voters that whatever Barrasso and company concoct will be a great health care plan? He even predicted Democrats will love it. At this stage, you don’t even have to hear the claims to know Trump is lying. You just have to see his lips moving.

With a divided Congress and incompetent administration, Republicans will not fulfill any of Trump’s cockamamie predictions. They hope a federal judge’s ruling overturning the ACA will be upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) quickly nixed the idea advanced by Trump that the upper chamber will make repealing the ACA a priority this year.

“I made it clear to him that we were not going to be doing that in the Senate,” McConnell said he told Trump.

GOP members of Congress fought passage of the ACA with falsehoods, claiming federal “death panels” would decide who lives and who dies. They unconscionably scared senior citizens who believed them. Now they’re peddling an alternative with similar credibility — Barrasso’s unfounded claims of having crafted a plan over the last decade.

Their hysterical the-sky-is-falling opposition to the ACA didn’t then, and doesn’t now, have anything to do with what’s best for the consumer. The last decade has instead been an exercise in pure partisanship and obstructionism with two goals in mind: 1) protect the broken health care system status quo that threatened to cripple our society but did a great job funding political campaigns, and 2) deny a popular Democratic president any type of victory.

Barrasso receives many campaign donations from doctors, physician groups, pharmaceutical companies and other health care related entities. How much influence will they have in the process of creating the “sweeping” health care reform that Trump promised?

Wyoming’s junior senator has been instrumental in crippling the ACA, and then turned around and has hypocritically been one of its loudest critics.

We’ve seen this approach from Barrasso before, namely in slashing land management agency budgets and authorities while decrying their ineffectiveness. He’s tried to use the failures of a system that he helped sabotage as evidence of the need for an alternative: the ill-advised state control of our national public lands.

Republicans finally realized in 2016 that despite their dire, false warnings about the ACA, that negatively influenced public opinion during Obama’s two terms, Americans like many things about it.

People appreciate the fact that the law prevents insurance companies from denying anyone health coverage because they have pre-existing medical conditions. Once the GOP caught on, the party claimed with a collective straight face that it would protect the very same provisions they vociferously fought to repeal!

And they will still expect voters to buy this nonsense when the next senatorial elections are held.

The funniest thing I’ve heard Barrasso say in years was his phony cry for bipartisanship after trying — and failing — to take a flamethrower to Obamacare.

“There are things that are working,” he now conceded, “but we need bipartisan support at a time when the Democrats want to take over all of health care and eliminate insurance from 160 million Americans,” he told Todd on “Meet the Press”.

Of course, he’s talking about several Democratic presidential candidates who have embraced the “Medicare for All” plan that Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) popularized during his 2016 run for the White House.

Given his appalling track record on the subject, no one should be shocked that Barrasso has the facts wrong. A Medicare for all system would provide quality health coverage for more Americans than ever before. If such a plan was in place today, the United States would not lag behind so many developed nations in the percentage of people whose health care is covered.

Republicans will continue to brand any Democratic proposal “socialism,” because that’s been part of their messaging playbook for years.

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If Americans are given a chance to evaluate all Democratic and Republican health care proposals without being blinded by the shrill rhetoric of ACA opponents like Barrasso, I have no doubt they will choose Medicare for all who want it.

Of course, that’s if Republicans even develop a health care plan. Don’t hold your breath waiting for one to appear… you will turn blue and need to see a doctor at once.

It shouldn’t be Barrasso, who gave up his medical practice when he became a senator. He still plays one on TV — Fox News mostly — but he’s going to be too busy carrying out Trump’s latest hoax on Americans to make any house calls.

Kerry Drake

Veteran Wyoming journalist Kerry Drake has covered Wyoming for more than four decades, previously as a reporter and editor for the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle and Casper Star-Tribune. He lives in Cheyenne and...

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8 Comments

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  1. Carpetbagging is Barrasso’s specialty he has no intent to fix any problems. thanks and I see a few with eyes wide open. The medical profession will rise up and stop this clown.

  2. When the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945 (MF45) is no longer shielding a cartel at the heart of our health business system, we’ll be hopeful. The original MF45 was less than 10 pages, but single spaced formats summarize the bill in two pages. Read it.

    The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 is nullified for insurance by MF45. The insurance industry is essential, and deeply entwined in our economy,. They don’t want to lose their monopoly profits.

    Because they profit from complexity, insurance companies shield Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), and other wasteful practices. Insurance directly benefits from increased costs due to MF45. Obamacare was complicated (in part), because they avoided taking on the insurance cartel. When will we learn?

  3. Over the years he has morphed into a persona of evil. I have little faith in him as a doctor or a Senator, especially after he made the statement that he is a Nationalist during the debates with Trauner. Trump only attracts those who are easily manipulated by greed and power into his inner circle of hatred, manipulation and fear and apparently he has found Barrasso a willing team member. Barrasso’s body language and demeanor speak to the darkness around him.. Look into his eyes, he does not represent the people of Wyoming in my opinion..

    1. I agree with you Elaine, Senator Barrasso is in the pit of evil. No new ideas on his part for a way forward for our state, just regression. I’m here to tell you boys, the future may not be the past. I think he has been surgically implanted on the backside of Mitch McConnell.

  4. As long as Wyoming blindly adheres to the Republican party and votes them into office on both state and federal levels, then we will have exactly the kind of government we deserve; one that does not give a crap about us, our health, our environment, our future.

  5. I don’t think your name calling and sarcasm help. If you believe this is a serious matter, you should discuss it seriously. Facts about who Barrasso has received funds from and steps he has taken to inhibit the ACA from working would help. Broad allegations are easily dismissed leaving readers empty.

  6. Right on, Kerry. Barrasso’s work seems to have been limited to “throw the poor under the bus.” He is the fox in the hen house. Trump has been talking about his great health plan for years, so his health care commitment is probably fake news. Not to worry.
    Where is it baby?