Paul Ryan Doesn't Want Democrats Near Healthcare

by Joseph D. Lyons
Mark Wilson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Healthcare must be a sore spot for House Speaker Paul Ryan. He banked a lot on repealing and replacing Obamacare, but even his Republican colleagues couldn't support the mess of a bill. It somehow managed to tick off moderates and those on the far right. Moving forward it seems he's between a rock and hard place; his Republican colleagues are his main impediment to passing the bill. But building common ground with Democrats? Forget about it. It seems Paul Ryan doesn't want any input from Democrats on healthcare... even if that's the only path forward to a successful bill. Go figure.

Ryan made his comments in an interview with CBS News that will air Thursday morning, Reuters reported. He doesn't want Trump reaching across the aisle — even though the GOP made a big mess of healthcare reform. "I don’t want that to happen," Ryan told Norah O'Donnell. "You know why? I want a patient-centered system. I don't want government running health care. The government shouldn’t tell you what you must do with your life, with your health care. We should give people choices." He thinks that the Democrats' version — or one with their input — would be "hardly a conservative thing."

This would really be a continuation of Republican healthcare policy. They refused to work with Democrats to pass the Affordable Care Act. Not one single Republican voted for the bill back in 2009. Now that they're in the majority, that would be an OK perspective to continue taking, except that they already showed with the first iteration of Trumpcare that they're not capable of getting a bill through Congress.

Trump, on the other hand, seems open to looking across the aisle. That's what he said on Tuesday when he met with some senators from both parties and claimed that a deal would be reached quickly on the issue. "I know that we're all gonna make a deal on health care — that's a very easy one. And I think that’s gonna happen very quickly," Trump told the crowd.

That worries Ryan, because he doesn't want to compromise on any repeal and replace bill. But he doesn't need to worry too much because the Democrats don't seem excited about the prospect of working with Trump. "He moved so far over to the right that it’s virtually impossible to work with him," Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer told POLITICO.

Nonetheless, either this is a very real fear of Ryan's — or he's just trying to apply some more pressure on his fellow Republicans:

What I worry about is that if we don't do this then he'll just go work with Democrats to try and change Obamacare and that’s not — that’s hardly a conservative thing. This is a can-do president, who's a business guy, who wants to get things done and I know that he wants to get things done with a Republican congress but if this Republican congress allows the perfect to be the enemy of the good, I worry we'll push the President into working with the Democrats.

Unless the Republicans come up with a totally different plan — or Trump supports realistic Democratic improvements — the best thing that can happen to healthcare is to leave Obamacare alone. Maybe the Democrats can improve it when they're in power again.