Thursday, July 20, 2017

Huffington Post -- Republicans Have A Way Out Of Their Health Care Mess: Working With Democrats

The case for bipartisan action just got stronger.

By Jonathan Cohn
Efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act have collapsed again, although it’s difficult to tell whether Senate Republicans will keep trying to find some way of passing legislation or whether they will simply do nothing and move on ― a strategy that President Donald Trump has already said he endorses because he remains convinced that Obamacare will collapse on its own [however, Trump has shifting stances on health care].

But there’s another way to proceed. Republicans could work with Democrats on a narrow, bipartisan bill that would fix the Affordable Care Act’s very real problems while leaving the bulk of the policy edifice in place.  

Until recently, the idea has mostly been the subject of whispers ― and wistful ones at that. But perhaps the most intriguing news Tuesday was an announcement from Lamar Alexander, the GOP senator from Tennessee and chairman of the health, education, labor, and pensions committee. He said he intends to hold hearings on the Affordable Care Act’s insurance markets ― assuming that the Senate rejects the GOP repeal-and-delay bill when it comes up for a vote early next week.

Of course, as a substantive proposition, bipartisanship has always had a compelling logic. The problem has been the politics for Republicans, particularly the fear that giving up on the repeal agenda and finding common ground with Democrats would be tantamount to admitting failure.

It’s a legitimate concern. But sometimes admitting failure isn’t the worst option on the table. For Republicans, who are now staring failure squarely in the face, this would seem to be one of those times.

Senator Bernie Sanders has a simple 3-point plan to improve the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA). It’s one that Democrats would embrace and narrow enough to get bipartisan support even though Republicans will initially resist. Tweaking the ACA is what should have been done a long time ago and it should have been an ongoing process.

Sanders says, stop talking about massive cuts to Medicaid. Let’s see how we can improve ACA.

We need to do three things:

1. We need a public option.
2. Lower Medicare eligibility from 65 to 55.
3. Lower the cost of prescription drugs.

Long term we must guarantee health care to all people as a right through a much simpler system that Sanders calls “Medicare for all.”

Once we start this process, just like what should have been done a long time ago, to give it viability it must be an ongoing process of tweaking it.