No Easy Pieces

How ironic a serious health issue involving one of its own is delaying a healthcare vote in the Senate.

The pending vote is over the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA), also misnamed because it doesn’t provide better care, many analysts say. So many are railing against it, as the replacement for Obamacare. Doctors. Insurers. Governors. Academics. Polls are showing how much people detest it. And maybe the symbolism of Sen. John McCain’s blood clot surgery that has delayed the Senate vote on the BCRA is a great reminder of how fragile healthcare is, and the need for care for everyone.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell  is desperately counting the votes he needs.

As McConnell looks at his deck of 52 GOP Senators, he certainly would count on McCain. McConnell wants as many as he can get because all the 48 Democrats are against it. At least two Republicans are opposed, with as many as eight undecided.

The bill is harmful, many agree. Not only are there proposed billions of dollars in cuts in Medicaid that would hurt the neediest, but the Congressional Budget Office noted in a previous version of the measure that at least 22 million people would lose their insurance coverage by 2026. An earlier approved House bill would impact 23 million people. While the CBO is expected to issue its latest score this week, many believe the next report will offer another failing grade, with the impact on the elderly substantial.

One of the GOP senators who is against the bill, Sen Susan Collins of Maine, has said the “deep cuts to Medicaid” should scuttle the measure.

When you think of healthcare,  you think of patients, that we all are at some time or another. And then you think of the doctors taking care of them.

What to do they think of the GOP bill?

A bad diagnosis says the American Medical Association, which represents physicians. While the AMA applauds additional funding to address the opioid epidemic, “those suffering from substance-use disorder have other health care needs that are not likely to be addressed if they lose coverage through a rollback of the-Medicaid expansion,” the AMA said in a statement.

So it’s about the numbers, all those millions who may lose coverage, and if Mitch McConnell loses another vote that could doom his chances. McCain has said he would support, at least, a motion to proceed.

Throughout his life, John McCain has shown exemplary courage, a true American hero. As he ponders his illness, I am sure he will think further about others, less fortunate, struggling with healthcare and paying the bills.

In a statement, McCain acknowledged several days he ago he wasn’t crazy about the revised Senate bill, and that he would file amendments. “We still lack consensus on how to repeal and replace the failed policies of Obamacare, a law that is imploding in the state of Arizona as premiums skyrocket and insurers flee the marketplace,” McCain said.

He noted, “if we are not able to reach a consensus, the Senate should return to regular order, hold hearings and receive input from senators of both parties, and produce a bill that finally provides Americans with access to affordable and quality health care.”

That sounds like an idea. Another one: fix Obamacare, which has done a lot of good for people.

Not many more Senators are needed to defeat the BCRA.

“Only one more Republican vote is needed to continue our nation’s painfully slow but necessary march toward guaranteeing every American health insurance,” wrote EJ Dionne in The Washington Post.

In  Profiles In Courage, President John F.  Kennedy wrote about the various pressures of political office, juggling how to be liked, the yearning for re-election and the “pressure of the constituency and interest groups.”  Kennedy wrote the book as a Senator, recovering from back surgery.

“In a democracy, every citizen, regardless of interest in politics, ‘hold office,’ every one of us is in a position of responsibility and in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon how we fulfill those responsibilities,” Kennedy wrote.

“We, the people, are the boss, and we will get the kind of political leadership, be it good or bad, that we demand and deserve.”

This is the Trump era. It is a time we need heroes more than ever, such as Senators who think carefully about their votes and what it means for everyone.

And then, we, the people, have our say.

—  Joe Cantlupe


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