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 ThuneGOP senators voice confidence over uphill Senate battle Senate GOP hedges on attending Trump's convention amid coronavirus uptick Finger-pointing, gridlock spark frustration in Senate 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 McConnellCongress pulls punches on Russian bounties firestorm Congress under pressure to provide billions for school openings Hillicon Valley: Facebook considers political ad ban | Senators raise concerns over civil rights audit | Amazon reverses on telling workers to delete TikTok MORE (R-Ky.) and the GOP leadership craved a win. Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' MORE would have gladly signed a bill so he could say he won.

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcCain's reset: US-Vietnam relations going strong after 25 years Senate outlook slides for GOP Juan Williams: Time for boldness from Biden MORE (R-Ariz.) was consistent and principled.

I wish Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSixth GOP senator unlikely to attend Republican convention Koch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump backs another T stimulus, urges governors to reopen schools MORE (R-Alaska), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenate GOP hedges on attending Trump's convention amid coronavirus uptick Koch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads Romney, Collins, Murkowski won't attend GOP convention MORE (R-Ohio), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (R-Nev.) and Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTrump administration to impose tariffs on French products in response to digital tax Big Ten moves to conference-only model for all fall sports Republicans considering an outdoor stadium for Florida convention: report 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.