Editorial: Playing a dangerous game with healthcare

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Things could not have gone much worse for President Donald Trump in the GOP healthcare debacle last week.

When the smoke finally cleared, we saw a president at odds with his party, a speaker of the House humbled — for the moment — by his inability to garner enough votes to pass his crappy bill and hordes of angry Trump voters who are starting to suspect that they’ve been duped.

After eight years of obstruction and more than 60 votes to repeal the thing, it turns out that no one in the Republican Party even had an acceptable replacement plan drawn up.

For a moment in the early days of this week, after more than a year of lies and, now, broken campaign promises, it looked as if reality might finally rear its head.

Or not.

Everyone from the Congressional Budget Office to the angry town-hall denizens knew that House Speaker Paul Ryan’s healthcare bill was as disastrous for poor Americans as it was beneficial for high earners. And had it passed, large swaths of Trump voters would have seen very real consequences in the form of higher premiums, higher deductibles and a lower standard of care — if, that is, they could afford health insurance in the first place.

That probably would not have gone over well.

So by failing to pass this bad bill, the GOP and their president dodged a bullet that likely would have struck home in the very next election. With few choices left, perhaps the party in power will allow the Affordable Care Act to do what it was intended to do by encouraging Republican governors and state general assemblies to greenlight the expansion of Medicaid to their citizens.

As of this year, 18 states including North Carolina have yet to accept this key provision of the ACA.

The smart move would be for Republicans to tune up the ACA so that it works for even more Americans, many of whom would be happy to give the credit to Trump regardless of the facts of the situation.

At this point, the GOP’s last stand is to keep distracting the American people from the specter of the public option: taxpayer-funded healthcare that removes insurance companies — and their profits — from the equation.