True health care reform should be bipartisan

True health care reform should be bipartisan

By Ellen Ratner   
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) might just succeed in getting the health care bill passed. (Photo:

LOS ANGELES — This year, New York State celebrates women’s right to vote. It has been 100 years since women were given the right to vote in New York, three years before women across the U.S. were given the right to vote. It is an amazing anniversary, and votes for women began in 1848, in New York State, with the “Declaration of Sentiments.”

Now, 100 years later, Republican senators – two of them women, and one the dying Sen. John McCain – stood up again. This time, the issue was a safety net for Americans in terms of their health care.

Do many Americans like the Affordable Care Act, which is also known as ACA or Obamacare? For many, the answer is a resounding no. Questioned about the provisions in the act, many Americans reject it. However, like Hillary Health (an early 1990s attempt at heath care, led by Hillary Clinton) the GOP alternative was crafted behind closed doors. The Republican senators were not part of the conversation.

Sen. John McCain, returning to the Senate to cast his “no” vote along with Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, wanted something different. It was not just the provisions of the health care bill that got these three people to vote against the Republican “skinny repeal” effort, but the fact that it is time for real bipartisanship.

President Trump tweeted that Sen. Murkowski had let “the Republicans and our country down.” A well-known Alaska paper, the Alaska Dispatch News, said the interior secretary called Sen. Murkowski to let her know that she had put Alaska’s “future with the administration in jeopardy.”

Trump got 51.3 percent of the vote in the general election on Nov. 8, but in the state’s presidential primary, he lost to Ted Cruz. The final vote count was 36.7 percent to Cruz and 33.64 percent to Trump. Alaska is not a sure state for 2020, if candidate Donald Trump has any kind of primary challenger.

Even though Planned Parenthood funding was an issue in the Republican health care bill, it is not clear how the two female senators felt about it. What is clear is that the two women senators who voted no with Sen. John McCain want something that can be bipartisan.

Yes, Americans might have voted for Trump to “drain the swamp.” The swamp might need to be drained, but Americans are also tired of the constant partisan bickering. We can’t afford to turn tribal. We can’t afford to be so partisan that there is no middle ground. The health-care bill, if there is one that finally gets passed, must be a compromise.

No, it can’t be “Medicare for all,” as Bernie Sanders and I would like. It can’t be something that has no safety net, as the most conservative members of the Senate, such as Sen. Rand Paul, would like. Paul, a doctor, took an oath to “reject harm” when he received his medical degree.

Sen. Paul said on Sean Hannity’s show: “I guess what disappoints me most about the Republicans who said they were for repeal, voted for it, and then no longer are, is that they’ve sort of forgotten. … They think this is about actuarial tables and insurance, and all this stuff. No, this is about freedom. This is about whether we as Americans should be free to buy what kind of insurance we want, what’s best for us and our families. And it’s about whether the individual knows best or government knows best.”

On another radio talk-show program, Dom Giordano’s, Sen. Rand Paul said no one had died because of lack of health care. He said: “No one is going to die in America. We haven’t let people die in America for hundreds of years because doctors take care of, and hospitals take care of, all comers.”

Let’s supposed Rand Paul is correct (and there is no way of knowing if he is), then how about quality of life? Any older person who has visited a doctor knows that health and medicine when you are older is about quality of life, not just dying.

The ACA (Obamacare) has its problems, but the only way to solve those problems is for there to be some bipartisan thinking on the issue of health care. The defeat of the Republican health-care plan this week is a start. Now we need both sides to put forth their ideas.

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