Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) is pushing back against President Donald Trump’s narrative that the House Freedom Caucus is to blame for the House GOP’s recent failure to pass health care reform.
On Friday, just minutes before a scheduled full House vote, Republican leadership pulled the American Health Care Act from the floor. The push to pass the legislation was a failure.
Trump, speaking to the American people in the Oval Office, thanked GOP leadership for their effort and conceded the bill’s failure. Trump said he would be moving on from health care reform to tax reform.
However, the president took to his Twitter account early Sunday to lash out at the Freedom Caucus, the conservative wing of House Republicans, for their staunch opposition to the Republican plan to replace Obamacare. In his tweet, Trump accused the caucus of “saving” Obamacare and Planned Parenthood.
Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 26, 2017
But Massie, one of the most principled conservatives in Congress, adamantly disagrees.
Indeed, the Freedom Caucus opposed the bill at every step because they believed the bill was simply “Obamacare Lite,” meaning that the GOP plan didn’t go far enough to repeal Obamacare and didn’t fulfill the promise Republicans had been making to constituents for seven years: that they would fully repeal Obamacare and replace it with a market-based solution once the party controlled both houses of Congress and the White House.
According to Massie, Trump’s assertion that the Freedom Caucus “saved” Planned Parenthood is not true.
“I take it GOP leadership still hasn’t told Trump the PP provision was a 1yr bait and switch?” Massie tweeted Sunday, in reply to Trump’s tweet.
“See page 23 of CBO,” he added, referencing a recent Congressional Budget Office report detailing the GOP plan.
From the CBO report:
CBO expects that, according to those criteria, only Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates and clinics would be affected. Most federal funds received by such entities come from payments for services provided to enrollees in states’ Medicaid programs. CBO estimates that the prohibition would reduce direct spending by $178 million in 2017 and by $234 million over the 2017-2026 period.
The report went on to explain that the savings of not funding Planned Parenthood would later be partially offset because most Planned Parenthood locations serve low income people who are typically already on Medicaid or some form of government assistance. That means more births for people on Medicaid whose children would also qualify for Medicaid.
According to the report:
CBO estimates that the additional births stemming from the reduced access under the legislation would add to federal spending for Medicaid. In addition, some of those children would themselves qualify for Medicaid and possibly for other federal programs. By CBO’s estimates, in the one-year period in which federal funds for Planned Parenthood would be prohibited under the legislation, the number of births in the Medicaid program would increase by several thousand, increasing direct spending for Medicaid by $21 million in 2017 and by $77 million over the 2017-2026 period.
In a last-ditch effort Thursday, the White House met with the Freedom Caucus to try and shore up votes in anticipation of Friday’s vote. Ultimately, they were unable to get the caucus’ support despite White House chief strategist Steve Bannon informing the caucus that they had “no choice” on the matter.
Massie alluded to the situation on Twitter Friday morning:
If Exec branch tells Legislative branch "when 2 vote" "how 2 vote" & "what it will b allowed 2 work on if vote fails," is that a republic?
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) March 24, 2017
And voiced his disdain for the bill all last week:
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) March 22, 2017
Still, despite Trump’s insistence that the GOP is moving on from health care reform to wait for Obamacare to “explode,” Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mike Meadows (R-N.C.) said over the weekend that debate over health care reform is not over.
Editor’s note: This story originally stated that Rep. Massie is a member of the House Freedom Caucus and has been updated to reflect that he is not.