GOP, drop the partisanship if you want to fix health care

GOP, drop the partisanship if you want to fix health care
© Greg Nash

The Republican Party has chanted the mantra "repeal and replace" for years. It rankles them that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. They said that, once they got in power, they would abolish it and replace it with something better.

The GOP is definitely in power. They control the presidency and both houses of Congress.

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The latest incarnation of "repeal and replace" (Graham-Cassidy) was so bad that everybody that composes the health-care field vigorously opposed it — doctors, hospitals, and even insurance executives.

 

The proposed bill did so many awful things. The people most hurt and put in danger were ordinary Americans.

Medicaid spending, which helps people with low incomes, would be cut by more than $1 trillion over the coming decade. Millions of Americans who had some form of health insurance would lose it.

The concept of giving insurance to people with pre-existing conditions would be done away. (Yes, there was some faint wording about consumer protection, but it was not backed up with any enforcement powers.)

OK, let's even call it ObamaCare. Its greatest and most valuable feature is that more than 20 million Americans got health insurance. Previously they had none.

Improvements can and should be made. Affordability must be maintained and vastly increased. What sticks in my craw is, even with this legislation, 30 million Americans don't have any type of insurance.

If you are one of those people and you need essential surgery or critical care, you are left out.

Republicans don't seem to be the least bit disturbed by this dreaded situation.

What kind of advanced society allows this to continue? Every other country that considers itself "advanced" makes sure everybody is covered.

One member of the GOP Senate leadership reacted to the bill's defeat with words which are deeply troubling.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTrump encounters GOP resistance to investigating Hunter Biden Republicans warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report: Public impeachment hearings to begin next week MORE (R-S.D.) said the following, "Single payer, socialism — or federalism, returning power to the states to make decisions ... I think that's an argument eventually we can win."

That's always the Republican gambit and ploy. Anything that helps and aids every American must be socialism. "Returning power to the states" is the paramount goal. So what if millions are deprived of insurance; so what if pre-existing conditions are used again to exclude; so what if poor people can't get help with Medicaid?

Let's call Graham-Cassidy what it was. A last-ditch, desperate attempt not to "repeal and replace" but just to win. Content and substance, fatal consequences, were not considered.

The future lives of millions of Americans were secondary and irrelevant. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell protege emerges as Kentucky's next rising star Hillicon Valley: Schumer questions Army over use of TikTok | Federal court rules against random searches of travelers' phones | Groups push for election security funds in stopgap bill | Facebook's new payment feature | Disney+ launch hit by glitches McConnell, GOP leaders say they won't be watching House impeachment hearing MORE (R-Ky.) and the GOP leadership craved a win. Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report MORE would have gladly signed a bill so he could say he won.

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSteve Schmidt: 'Overwhelming chance that Trump will dump Pence' for Haley Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Sanders proposes expanded Veterans Affairs services, B to rebuild infrastructure MORE (R-Ariz.) was consistent and principled.

I wish Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGoogle sparks new privacy fears over health care data This week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry GOP senators plan to tune out impeachment week MORE (R-Alaska), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanRepublicans warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump GOP lawmakers fear Trump becoming too consumed by impeachment fight Synagogues ramp up security in year since Tree of Life shooting MORE (R-Ohio), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThis week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary MORE (R-Nev.) and Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care: Top health official defends contract payments to Trump allies | Vaping advocates confident Trump will turn from flavor ban | Sanders gets endorsement from nurses union McConnell, GOP leaders say they won't be watching House impeachment hearing Poll: 1 in 5 US adults report trouble affording prescription drugs MORE (R-Iowa), who voiced concerns and doubts about the bill, would have had the courage to come out against the bill — early and often. They hid and vacillated.

The GOP promise of "repeal and replace" was a campaign slogan. Nothing more. Their proposals in the end would have hurt people beyond repair.

The tough work remains to be done. If the GOP is truly serious, they would sit down with Democrats and produce a bill that seeks to cover every American and tells the country how we pay for it.

In the meantime, ObamaCare is preserved and hopefully improved with both Republicans and Democrats working to make it better.

Mark Plotkin is a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a columnist for The Georgetowner. He previously worked as a political analyst for WAMU-FM, Washington’s NPR affiliate, and for WTOP-FM, Washington’s all-news radio station. He is a winner of the Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in writing.