By Patrick Murphy
Like most complicated issues in Congress, and life in general, you find the best solutions by working together, hearing opinions that might differ from yours and seeing where a compromise can be found. Allowing a diverse group of voices into the process simply produces better results.
The secretive and clumsy process that has resulted in a disastrous piece of health-care legislation that would leave 22 million Americans without coverage is the epitome of everything wrong with Congress. It was crafted by one party, without outside input, at breakneck speed to avoid dissent.
No wonder only 16 percent of Americans support this bill, according to a recent Wall Street Journal survey.
The original Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare bill, was signed into law before my time in the U.S. House, but I have stated repeatedly it was a significant step forward for the millions of Americans who lacked access to basic health care, and we should work to improve it, not kill it.
Over the course of my two terms in Congress representing the Treasure Coast, I supported a handful of bipartisan, commonsense fixes that I believed would improve Obamacare — such as temporarily delaying the employer mandate and allowing Americans to keep their original plans if they liked them.
I also voted against dozens of repeal efforts put forth by the GOP majority that I believed would severely harm Americans’ access to health care.
Why anyone in Congress today would rally behind a measure that strips essential benefits from more people than live in the entire state of Florida boggles the mind.
Here are just some of the horrors from the Senate version:
- States are given the option of dropping those with pre-existing conditions;
- Medicaid is cut over time from the poorest Americans, including children, who need it the most;
- Mental-health and opioid addiction services are scaled back;
- People approaching 65 would pay five times more for coverage than younger people on the exchanges.
From public opinion polls to nonpartisan groups like the AARP and American Medical Association to the shrinking handful of moderates in Washington, the message is clear: Do not pass this bill.
Now that the Senate has delayed its vote, I hope members of Congress take the upcoming recess to hear from their constituents on why this bill would do so much harm, and reflect on why exactly people send their representatives to Washington.
It’s not to score political points and “wins.” It’s to improve people’s lives.
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