Advocacy Defeats the GOP’s Health Care Bill
The demise of the GOP’s bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act was extraordinary! Republicans had crusaded for seven years to repeal and replace the ACA and, for an even longer period, sought to reduce funding for Medicaid. Many commentators ascribe the bill’s demise to splits within the Republican Party, but as Families USA Executive Director Ron Pollack observed, “[t]he defeat of the Affordable Care Act’s repeal bill was not simply the story of a couple dozen renegade Republican House members who revolted against their party’s leadership. It was much larger than that.”
People across the commonwealth expressed their dismay and fears about losing coverage. This mobilization was partially prompted by the InsurePA Coalition, which the Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) helped to form. These efforts encouraged people to share their stories, humanizing the debate.
Other Pennsylvania health stakeholder groups also opposed the Republican bill. The Pennsylvania Hospital Association expressed dismay that they would become economically vulnerable by being forced to provide uncompensated care to many more people who would no longer have insurance.
And, the bill’s demise showed the broad and deep reach of Medicaid, which covers 2.8 million Pennsylvanians –about six times as many people as the private marketplaces created under the ACA. The objections of moderate Republicans to the deep cuts in Medicaid doomed the bill. Republican congressmen Patrick Meehan of Delaware County expressed reservations after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted that the Republican bill would have significantly reduced federal spending on Medicaid and reduced the number of Medicaid beneficiaries.
As David Brooks succinctly summed up, “The Republican Health Care bill failed because it was a bad bill that had almost no authentic public support. It took benefits away from tens of millions of vulnerable people…” People are hungry for solutions to their health care problems. If Washington lawmakers continue to move forward on ACA repeal they should be guided by the human consequences of their decisions.