By Dr. Marie Gould Harper
Program Director, Management at American Public University
Much has happened regarding healthcare reform in the past month. The most significant change occurred on May 4, when the House of Representatives passed the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) by a vote of 217 to 213.
Although there were some serious areas of concern with the House bill, several Republicans who had been on the fence finally voted for it after some compromises were negotiated. All 193 Democrats opposed the bill, along with 20 moderate Republicans.
The House bill is now in the Senate where its fate is unknown.
AHCA Needs to Be the Best Solution Possible to Succeed
Opponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known popularly as Obamacare, could have crafted an alternative plan during the past seven years. Unfortunately, it appears that they were not diligently moving toward a replacement plan until President Trump came into office and demanded a replacement plan sooner rather than later.
When House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced the AHCA as “the patient’s choice plan,” he called it “the best that we could come up with.” I find that explanation unacceptable.
Replacing Obamacare Requires a Better Plan
An alternative plan should not be “the best” that you can create; it should be a better plan than what is in place. If you are vocal enough to speak up about a problem, it is your duty and responsibility to propose something comparable or better.
In the case of replacing the ACA, we are talking about the lives of fellow Americans. All of us – consumers, businesses, healthcare organizations and government officials – are concerned about what will happen if we don’t get this right.
Although the President belongs to the majority party, his style of governing is not the typical political style. He wants things done fast and easy.
Trump recently tweeted that the Senate should revise its voting rules to make passage of legislation like the AHCA and tax overhauls easier. He called for passage by a simple majority, that is 51 votes, rather than by a supermajority of 60 votes. The President wants the Senate to mirror what the House of Representatives did when it pushed through a plan that would gut Obamacare.
Congress is in a quandary. Of the three branches of the government, the Legislative branch is the most vulnerable to public opinion because House members face the voters every two years. In recent years, however, members of Congress have become accustomed to making deals and voting along party and ideological lines regardless of what their constituents want.
It appears that the Senate and the House aren’t communicating with one another..”
The Senate is taking its time to carefully review the House-passed bill. As Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) told Time magazine, the intent is to take the best parts from the House bill and craft one that meets the Senate’s goals.
But meeting the needs of the Senate are not the same thing as meeting the needs of the voters.
In fact, many members of Congress are avoiding town hall meetings with their constituents. Mid-term congressional elections are less than two years away. Some representatives might not do well at the ballot box if they don’t start having healthy, constructive conversations with the people who put them in office.
Representatives should not be afraid to meet with the people. If there is dissension, it’s better to confront and address the source of contention. For example, one of the most critical concerns among voters is insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions. As written, the AHCA provides some loopholes in that area of healthcare.
Do our elected representatives have their fingers on the pulse of what the people want? If they don’t, they need to find it soon, so that they can do due diligence when they craft bills that truly meet the needs of the people they represent.
About the Author
Dr. Marie Gould Harper is the Program Director of Management at American Public University. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in business from Capella University. She is a progressive coach, facilitator, writer, strategist and human resources/organizational development professional with more than 30 years of leadership, project management, and administrative experience. Dr. Gould Harper has worked in both corporate and academic environments.
Dr. Gould Harper is an innovative thinker and strong leader, manifesting people skills, a methodical approach to problems, organizational vision and ability to inspire followers. She is committed to continuous improvement in organizational effectiveness and human capital development, customer service and the development of future leaders.