Last month, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) failed to garner enough Republican support in the House of Representatives to pass their chamber and move on to the Senate. The failure was partly due to the fact that it had zero support from the Democrats, but also because of differing factions amongst the GOP. Democrats refuse to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and many of the Republicans didn’t think that the AHCA went far enough in repealing and replacing the ACA.
Almost everyone agrees that the ACA as it stands right now is not the healthcare plan of the future for America. Those on the left side of the aisle want minor tweaking to keep it fluid, or maybe even more reform to make it more socialistic or universal. Those on the right side of the aisle want to get rid of much or all of the ACA and start over on healthcare reform. In reality, the only answer that will work best for all of America is one that lies somewhere in the middle of those two sides.
Throughout America’s history, there are many examples of legislation that were passed with a large majority of bipartisan support. Social Security and Medicare were enacted with strong bipartisan support. In 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (funneling money into skilled worker education) was passed with great bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate. The problems we are seeing with the US healthcare laws (current and proposed) are because none of them have had any bipartisan support. When the ACA was passed in 2010, there was no Republican support for the bill in either the House or the Senate. While there were many reasons for no GOP support (and even some Democrats in the House voted against it), a big reason was that many people didn’t even know what the thousands of pages of legislation and regulations would fully accomplish. In the words of then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
“But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it – away from the fog of the controversy.”
Fast forward about 7 years and you will find the Republicans trying the same method with the repeal and replacement of the ACA. They drafted the bill in the House of Representatives behind closed doors with no opposition party input, brought it to the public and planned a vote all within a 2-week period. There was no Democratic support for the bill.
We now have 2 bills that have only been supported by the party that was/is in power over the 2 chambers of Congress and the presidency. This leaves the bills very vulnerable the next time there is a power shift in Washington. If the Republicans are able to force their bill through, the next time the Democrats have control of Congress and have a Democratic President, then they will try to change it to their idea of what is best. In reality, we need to have both parties sit down at the table and have some give and take. Compromise never feels great when you give up something that you want, but in the end, getting something that is best for everyone and helps everyone is better than temporary pride. The Democrats will need to give up some of their more socialistic healthcare ideas and the Republicans will need to give up their opposition to some of the current ACA provisions.
While I don’t pretend to have the answers for what to keep and what to do away with, I know that it’s not going to be an easy road and it’s not going to be a quick road, but it’s a road that we need to travel down to fix a system that isn’t working very well and isn’t headed in a good direction. Congressmen and women need to stop worrying about all the special interest lobbyist and come together to think about the American people. Talk with Doctors, talk to nurses and people in the business office of healthcare clinics. Congress needs to get input from the people who will be carrying out these policies, instead of pretending that they know how to make you healthy, as if they have already gone through med school. But most importantly, bipartisanship is the only strong answer for the future of healthcare in the United States.
Side note: While I personally believe that healthcare reform was something that was never granted to the legislative branch (see here), Congress has already opened that can of worms. So, I believe the only thing that can be done now is to fix what is currently in place.
Jason – Three Patriots