Today, the Republicans in the House of Representatives had a win. They passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Now the Senate needs to act.
First, thoughtful, reasonable people, regardless of political persuasion, need to read the AHCA, or at least objective summaries written in plain English. Then, they need to decide how the legislation affects them or people they know. And, finally they need to write that up and send it to their Senators. Only by sending thousands of stories about impact will we be able to affect the Senate's approach to health care reform.
Second, people who know how health care is or is not working in specific states need to prepare state profiles and share them widely, but especially with Senators.
Third, state profiles need to drive solutions. One solution will never fix everything.
Fourth, Senators need to set priorities. What needs to be guaranteed? What needs to be optional? How do we attract people, from different demographic groups, to secure health care? Fundamentals like this need to be discussed, addressed, and agreed to across party lines first.
Fifth, the Senate needs to attend to and respect stakeholder input, be transparent and clear about points of disagreement and points on which there is consensus, and especially listen to governors AND state Medicaid directors.
There is no doubt that Obamacare needs to be fixed. Democrats may think that the House passage of AHCA gives them a political sledge hammer to go after Republicans in swing districts in 2018. Who is to say? But I for one, want our Senators to act like statesmen and engage, and solve the mess we are in now. Health care represents one fifth of our economy. It needs predictability and certainty. It does not know how to interpret political brinksmanship.
If we consider and take the steps outlined here maybe we can get to something that makes sense. I certainly hope so. So many lives are hanging in the balance, as well as a significant part of our economy.