This week the House of Representatives leadership pulled the proposed AHCA before members had a chance to vote on it. We in the Resistance can view this as a success, with some serious caveats.
The political activism of millions of Americans over the past few weeks–us among them–definitely paid off. Democrats stood firm in their rejection of the bill, while a number of Republicans were pressured to “see the light” based on the overwhelming number of phone calls, emails, and in-person demonstrations directed at them. They got an inkling that their constituents would be a bit unhappy with them if they voted yes on the bill. Town Hall meetings around the country were packed with people who were furious at the Republican effort to reduce the provisions of the Affordable Care Act and decimate Medicaid and Planned Parenthood, while costing the poor and elderly much higher premiums. The bill, if enacted, would have been devastating to millions.
Our Resistance, however, was not the only force in play. Ultra-conservative members of the “Freedom Caucus” opposed the AHCA because it left too many of the provisions of the ACA in place. They did not believe the proposed bill went far enough to gut the healthcare plan that provides coverage to millions. We became extremely unlikely allies in preventing a vote on the bill.
Added to this, You-Know-Who and Paul Ryan were simply not able to negotiate their way into passage of this ill-considered legislation. That does not bother me too much right now; let them writhe in their failure.
While the Resistance has significant cause to celebrate, we also have to realize that this effort to destroy the ACA is not likely to be the last. There will be pressure to draft legislation that will appeal to more Republicans, including the “Freedom Caucus.” Of course, appealing to the more conservative members of the party will result in even more resistance from those of us who care about our neighbors’ well-being.
Is the ACA perfect? It goes a long way toward expanding health insurance availability, but I do not pretend that it is perfect. With premiums and out-of-pocket costs rising at rates that are unsustainable, it needs work. Perhaps an expansion of the Medicare program to younger people would be a good start; perhaps reducing the corporate profits of greedy health insurance companies is a good start. Maybe one of these days–in my lifetime?–we will see the United States join other industrialized nations around the world in providing universal, single-payer health care for everyone. Really, everyone.
In the meantime, let’s celebrate this success while remaining vigilant. There will be another proposal to destroy the ACA, and there are still attacks on many fronts. We have lots of arenas that need our efforts.
Congratulations on being a part of this powerful force. We are being heard.