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Editorial: Lack of GOP plan kills repeal; is fixing Obamacare the next step?

What Republicans hopefully learned last Friday, after its last-ditch effort to repeal ObamaCare failed in the Senate, is that just being opposed to policy isn’t enough. You have to also prepare a replacement policy that better serves the public.
It was that lack of a plan, and the Republican leadership’s cynical strategy to try to craft a policy on the fly without any guarantees of what might be in the final bill, that prompted Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, to vote against the proposal and kill the Republican effort. As proposed, the so-called “skinny-repeal bill,” would have cut 15 million Americans off their health insurance policies in this first year and prompted insurance premiums for individuals to jump 20 percent in the next year — among many other provisions that would have reduced health care coverage for most low-to-middle income American families.
While McCain got much of the credit, he was not alone. Equal credit goes to Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, as well as the 48 Democratic senators who have been unified in their opposition.
While three Republican senators put country before politics, 49 chose to vote for what 72 percent of the American public (according to recent polls) were against, and to do so for the wrong reason: fulfilling a campaign mantra built on fear and demagoguery rather than honest information. Almost all Republicans considered the skinny repeal bill a disappointment and “awful” legislation.
But there were a few holdouts. “I’m not going to vote for a bill that is terrible policy and horrible politics just because we have to get something done,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, who called the bill a “disaster” and a “fraud,” as a replacement for ObamaCare. Graham only voted for the bill after receiving assurances from House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., that the bill would not be passed without significant changes in House-Senate negotiations. Even Sen. Michael Rounds, R, South Dakota, called the bill “ugly to the bone.”
And health insurance companies across the board, along with most of the medical profession, had been warning not to repeal ObamaCare without providing a responsible replacement plan. Under the skinny repeal, insurers warned, healthy people would wait until they got sick to buy insurance, the insurance companies would be dominated by sickly people, and health care premiums would soar.
But while millions of Americans avoided disaster, Trump seemed determined to undermine ObamaCare and pressuring senators with unseemly politics. After the vote, Trump tweeted: “As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!” The president, it seems, doesn’t give a twit about the 20-30 millions of Americans who could lose their health insurance, and the hundreds of millions of others whose insurance premiums might skyrocket because of his thoughtless action.
Even worse, and with another new low point, Trump had his Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke call Sen. Murkowski of Alaska (most likely with threats to cut federal aid to the state) if she voted against the repeal. Murkowski, those close to that phone call said, was “furious.”
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What happens next on health care is uncertain, but political analysts suggest that any further discussion would go through the committee process.
Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer of New York took the proper tone: “We are not celebrating. We are relieved that millions and millions of people who would have been so drastically hurt by the three proposals put forward (by Republicans) will at least retain their health care, and be able to deal with pre-existing conditions.” And hopefully, as McCain, Schumer, numerous governors of both parties and others have suggested, now the work of amending ObamaCare to fix its faults can begin.
Angelo Lynn

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