It’s no surprise that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell failed to inspire enough support from Republicans to hold a vote this week on the U.S. Senate plan to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
The GOP approach in the Senate would strip health insurance from tens of millions of Americans and drastically curtail government aid for insurance for those who can’t afford to buy it on their own. After weeks of secret work to improve on the unpopular Republican bill passed by the House, McConnell’s plan managed to only strip coverage from 22 million Americans, instead of the House’s 23 million.
This is progress?
McConnell’s problems stem from the simple fact that too many Americans find this kind of sweeping rollback of insurance coverage untenable and unsettling. Some GOP senators say the bill does not go far enough. Others repeat a phrase President Donald Trump used to describe the House plan, saying they won’t vote for it because it’s too “mean.”
McConnell is furiously trying to revise the bill to address both sets of critics. This scrambling gives voters everywhere a couple of weeks to be heard. Don’t squander that opportunity.
Americans who feel that the Republican plans to undo the Affordable Care Act go too far should call their senators. Write their offices. Ask friends to do the same. Force the architects of this plan, and those who may vote for it, to think hard about the political price they could pay if they leave tens of millions of Americans uninsured and slash the benefits of millions of others.
Those who do call would be doing the Republican Party a giant favor.
When McConnell stepped out of the GOP’s meeting with Trump last week, he warned his party that one way or another a health care bill will be passed.
“Either Republicans will agree and change the status quo, or the markets will continue to collapse, and we’ll have to sit down with Sen. [Chuck] Schumer,” he said. Oh, the horror.
Actually, sitting down with the Democrats’ Senate leader is precisely what the GOP ought to do — for themselves and for the country. Sure, Democrats have so far shown no interest in negotiating. But they have long been on record that the Affordable Care Act should be improved. Republicans should call their bluff.
Democrats should get off the sidelines and write a bill with fixes — a bill to stem the exodus of insurers from the markets, to slow the increase in premiums and, above all, to reduce the overall costs of health care itself.
Republicans should make their own list. And then, well, negotiate.
It’s true, this approach would leave the GOP’s real priorities — tax cuts and shrinking Medicaid, for instance — for another day. Fine. But if they want to keep insisting they’re writing a health care bill, they would do well to focus on making our health care system actually work better.
The millions of Americans who have come to depend on it would thank them.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS