The Healthcare Promise: GOP Lost Opportunity?
Seven years ago, the Democratic Party and President Obama successfully pushed their landmark legislation through the House and the Senate. It was not easy to satisfy the requests of both houses and required many savvy parliamentary moves to pass the Affordable Care Act. On March 23, 2010, it was signed into law by the president and immediately the Republican Party began their resistance. First, they gained control of the House in the stunning 2010 midterm elections. Second, they eventually gained a slim majority in the Senate in the 2014 midterm elections. Third, they worked together to craft legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which passed the House and the Senate in 2015. Naturally, it was vetoed by the president, but it provided a blueprint for passing the bill when the Republicans gained control of the executive office.
The bill was created and passed through Congress back in the fall of 2o15 just as the presidential primary season was heating up. Many Republicans began to grow nervous about their chances of winning the presidency in November 2016 as they watched the rise of Donald Trump. As the media, Democratic Party, and some Republicans engaged in trench warfare throughout the general election, the prospects of them retaining even the Senate seemed in danger. In the early morning of November 9, 2016, when the nation woke to the reality of Donald Trump as president, the Republicans that detested him realized they needed to fall in line and try to provide support. It was clear that they were just as shocked as President Trump was that he had won and that they had kept a slim majority in the Senate.
The shock reverberated in a negative fashion when it came to the healthcare debate. The House took two tries to pass their version of the American Health Care Act, which only came after the president stepped in to lobby for the support of some key representatives. The Senate was far worse, mired down with arguments from the moderate and the very conservative factions of the Republican senators. Senator Susan Collins of Maine and a few other of the moderate faction were concerned about the bill’s comprehensive reforms of Medicaid programs, which the constituents of those senators depended on. On the other hand, Senator Mike Lee of Utah and a few others from the conservative faction were concerned that the repeal did not go far enough. When the first version of the bill was introduced, the defections came quickly from the Republican factions, many moderates citing the CBO report that warned of millions more losing coverage as a result. The second version was no better, as Sens. Jerry Moran and Mike Lee defected, joining Sens. Collins and Rand Paul to effectively doom the bill.
The president vows the carry on the fight and encourage Congress to stay in session until the bill is complete, but the outlook is bleak. Two tries and no clear vision on how the improvements on how the 52 senators will all be able to agree on a version of the bill. Majority Leader McConnell recognizes the reality of trying to work with the stubborn Democratic senators to “fix” the bill, but that will probably not be well received by most of the people that voted to repeal the messy healthcare bill.
The stunning 2010 election results that put the Republicans back in power were due to the controversial passing of the Affordable Care Act. It would be quite a disappointment for the infighting between the Senate factions lead to no action on fulfilling the promise. The voters experiencing the effects of the healthcare bill might decide to action and boot these senators out of office. Senator McCain is right. The healthcare system is a mess and action needs to be taken. Right now, it just looks like the Republicans in Congress gave up on Donald Trump winning the presidency and lazily went through the motions of passing the 2015 repeal bill.