President Trump keeps racking up the wins and the establishment is getting nervous. Trump, defying all odds, is actually getting big bipartisan stuff done which we haven’t seen in Washington since Clinton and Regan.
Trump is forming a new ruling coalition that seems likely to run this country for the next 50 years. Here is how United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer describes it:
“House passage of the USMCA with such huge bipartisan support is a major milestone and shows just how much President Trump is successfully changing U.S. trade policy so it works for the benefit of American workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses.
“This is the first-ever trade coalition of workers, farmers, Republicans, Democrats, business and agriculture groups, organized labor and much more. I would like to thank the many members of the House and Senate for getting us to this point. I would also like to acknowledge the leadership of the business community, agriculture groups, and organized labor who have supported the agreement.”
That terrifies the swamp as did Trump’s other bipartisan win to lower surprise medical costs from emergency visits to hospitals.
It is a complicated subject with ‘in networks’ and ‘out of networks’ but to cut through the noise – Americans are vulnerable when they are rushed to an emergency room – and certain industries are taking advantage of that.
Americans are getting screwed in big numbers and certain industries are laughing all the way to the bank. So Trump got a deal to fix it and got bipartisan support.
But the swamp got to one key player Rep. Richard Neal, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. He scuttled the deal and people are not happy, save the donors.
“There is extreme frustration. This was the deal. It was vetted. It was signed off on. It was approved. The White House endorsed it,” said one House Republican aide. “That’s when you need to set aside egos and get on board. This was going to be a win for the American people.”
Ultimately, the Senate Health Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee came to a compromise: Doctors cannot send surprise bills to patients, and insurance companies will pay out doctors at the average in-network rate for all bills up to $750. Above $750, the price goes to arbitration.
The deal was endorsed by President Trump and seemed set to pass, but it was always on shaky ground. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, receiving pressure from the Greater New York Hospital Association, did not endorse the bill but did not try to block it. Politicians in both parties had problems with the bill, but it seemed to have enough support.
Then, last week, Neal surprised everyone by releasing a counterproposal. Conversations with half a dozen politicians and aides across both parties and chambers with knowledge of the process concluded that the proposal from the Ways and Means Committee fractured the unsteady coalition and killed chances for surprise billing to be solved in 2019.
“That came out of the blue at the end,” said Rep. Greg Walden, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “When something like that happens, it gives others the excuse to go, ‘Oh look, they’re not ready.’”
Neal’s primary challenger, Alex Morse — the mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts — alleges a different explanation. Morse accused Neal of being bought by a $29,000 donation from the Blackstone Group, a private equity owner of physician-staffing company TeamHealth, which profits from surprise billing.
“It’s evident who Congressman Neal is working for. He’s certainly not working for the people,” said Morse. Neal’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.