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How Republicans could pass 'TrumpCare' this month

The Hill logo The Hill 4/20/2017 Dan Weber, opinion contributor
Address Medicaid spending before trying to reform healthcare © Provided by The Hill Address Medicaid spending before trying to reform healthcare

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

When President Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan pulled their bill to repeal ObamaCare and reform the health care system in America last month, the press was all too happy to dance on that legislation's grave. They hailed it as a sign that the Trump administration was too dysfunctional to get anything done.

But TrumpCare is back from the dead, and Trump and Ryan have learned much in the last few weeks. In fact, if they play their cards right - and especially if they make one key tweak - there is every indication they will be able to pass their health care reform bill before this month is out.

President Trump is, first and foremost, a strategist. His canny understanding of the political landscape allowed him to cruise to victory despite being written off by the professional chattering class. He understood the votes weren't there yet, and he doesn't like to lose. Pulling the bill was the smart choice at the time. But Trump is also a quick learner, and now has a better understanding of just how hard it is to work with the hundreds of strong-willed independent thinkers in Congress. Armed with that knowledge, he has now begun the slow process of building a consensus of support that will allow him to accomplish his goal.

He is likely working more closely with Speaker Ryan this time around. It is in both their interests to get the job done and prove to the voters that the new administration and Congress deserve their respect.

Their first task is to overcome the divisions within the Republican party. But once they manage that, they will of course face an even greater public relations battle with the Democrats over the law itself. Bipartisan cooperation is a nice idea, but in today's Washington, it doesn't pay to count on that.

Sadly, if the past is prologue, the Democrats will surely put forward charges against the new law and seek to paint it as a disaster for the American people. You can be certain that even if the bill offers improvements, there will be an avalanche of critics pointing out anecdotes of families or individuals suffering under the Republicans' sinister plan.

Republicans have done well at pointing out ObamaCare's many failures - the most glaring of which being the 29 million Americans still not covered by health insurance despite this law being "on the books" for years.

But that's not enough. TrumpCare must offer its own benefits and Republicans must promote them, just as Democrats pointed out the pre-existing condition and age limit increase provisions of Obamacare over and over again.

For instance, they can offer a positive response to the travesty of 29 million still-uninsured Americans by offering a plan to cover more people almost immediately. And that can be done with a simple addition to the bill - a tweak supported by the medical community that would give care to millions of people and save taxpayer money.

TrumpCare should include a provision offering pro bono healthcare from participating doctors to needy Americans. This would provide for our most vulnerable citizens to receive free health care from a local doctor. The concept is easy to understand: doctors could voluntarily agree to accept up to 20 pro bono patients per year and receive a tax deduction for doing so. The deduction would be equal to their normal office visit fee.

At the end of the year, when they prepare their taxes, the doctors would fill out a one-page form listing how many pro bono patients they served and the value of those visits. Like all tax materials, this would be subject to audit.

The medical community is on board. The Association of Mature American Citizens polled hundreds of doctors and found over 80 percent would participate. Since there are 400,000 primary care doctors and nurse practitioners in the U.S., if each were to accept 20 patients, over 6 million people would be helped.

Pro bono health care would not only provide coverage for millions of the uninsured, it would also save money by reducing or eliminating costs from Medicaid which presently helps some of our neediest citizens. President Trump could then be justly credited with providing health care for millions of people who are presently uninsured, while saving the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

Making pro bono health care a part of the final TrumpCare bill could be the key that secures its already-likely final passage this month. 

Dan Weber is the president and founder of the Association of Mature American Citizens, a senior's organization that represents more than 1.2 million members and stands for fiscal responsibility.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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