Health-care debate far from over after latest GOP bill fails

By Editorial Board

The latest Republican move to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act sunk like a stone last week. After three GOP senators voiced opposition to the Graham-Cassidy bill Sept.26, voting was cancelled because the legislation didn’t have the necessary 51-vote support. 

The ACA is safe for now. However, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, two of the bill’s authors, have vowed to continue attempts to repeal former President Barack Obama’s health-care law. Even though the Senate is moving on to tax reform, as the GOP Senate leaders stated in a Sept. 26 press conference, Americans cannot afford to disarm in the fight for accessible healthcare. 

A majority of the public clearly thinks Republicans in Congress have failed to create a health-care bill in Americans’ best interest, based on a poll by ABC News and The Washington Post. Out of 1,002 adults questioned Sept. 18–21, 56 percent preferred the ACA while only 33 percent supported the Graham-Cassidy bill, which was projected to decrease federal spending for Medicaid to zero by 2027, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The faults of the ACA have been scrutinized since its inception. Rising insurance premiums have left individuals searching for cheaper plans with limited options for coverage. But none of the Republicans’ solutions address these problems.

Instead, new problems would arise if either of the GOP-proposed bills had passed—including the loss of Medicaid for many low-income people. The Graham-Cassidy bill was thrown together so hastily that a score from the Congressional Budget Office was not available, although the office did release a statement saying that millions would lose healthcare coverage. 

In addition, the government would no longer require insurers to cover a comprehensive list of benefits like prescription medicine, emergency care, drug rehab and a host of other medically necessary treatments. 

After Obamacare expanded coverage for so many, the case for single-payer healthcare is getting easier to make, and its leading spokesman, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, introduced legislation Sept. 13 that would make universal coverage a reality. What’s new, however, is how many Democratic senators are co-sponsoring the bill–Sens. Corey Booker D-New Jersey, Kamala Harris D-California, Al Franken D-Minnesota, Tammy Baldwin D-Wisconsin and many more.

This is bound to be a campaign issue in 2020. Some Americans may feel helpless as the state of their healthcare is debated by leaders in Washington, D.C., but they have a say in who represents them and the causes they care about.

About one-third of Senate seats will be up for reelection in 2018, and Americans need to ensure the ACA is protected and improved by researching their local candidates and what they stand for. The Senate may be done with the health-care debate for now, but Americans should not back down until comprehensive health care is regarded as a right for everyone.