Bipartisanship is only path to health care reform

Published 9:01 am Friday, September 29, 2017

On Tuesday, Republicans in the Senate announced that their latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Graham-Cassidy bill, was dead, having failed to attain support for passage.

“We don’t have the votes,” Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, said to the media following the announcement.

The Affordable Care Act has flaws, and it defenders would be the first to admit it, but it has provided health insurance to many Americans and remains popular with the public.
Republican leaders would be better served to work with the opposition in finding a bipartisan fix for the existing law, rather than opting to go with legislation that was drafted solely by the GOP.

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The ACA was initially passed by Democrats on a party line vote, using the expedited budget reconciliation process after the party lost its 60-vote supermajority and ability to overcome filibusters from the other side.

Now, because they have taken a similar approach, Republicans have guaranteed they will have 46 Democrats and two independents saying “No” right out of the gate.

It did not have to be this way. This summer, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, and Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, hosted a series of bipartisan talks aimed at drafting a limited fix for the ACA.

However, Republicans quickly pulled out of the effort, opting instead to go with the repeal effort, drafted by their side.

However, all it took was three moderate Republicans to oppose their party to doom the effort, which had to succeed by Oct. 1 in order to use a 50-vote majority through reconciliation.

It is time for the Senate to abandon the reconciliation approach to health care and craft a consensus bill, which can be supported by meaningful coalition.

Regardless of which side has control, Congress has highly dysfunctional for at least a generation, with both sides mired in gridlock, endlessly filibustering and refusing to even entertain working across the aisle.

For any major legislation to be accepted by a broad swath of the general public, it is going to require both sides to finally grow up, swallow their pride and work together for a greater good.