Tallahassee Democrat: Lawson: We need actual reform, not partisan jabs
The news coming out of the Senate about the latest in the health care debate is troubling. Keeping negotiations behind closed doors and blocking news reporters from reporting on progress is unacceptable.
It was my hope that Senate Republicans would rectify the short-sighted version of health care their House colleagues sent over. Instead, a 13-member group, made up only of male Senate Republicans, has remained elusive about any actual plan for reforming our nation’s health care.
That is not what Americans want from their government. They want their voice represented at the decision-making table – and I have news for the Republican senators: We have women in America. We have a lot of ethnicities in America. And do you know what we all have in common with you? We all need health care.
Just last month House Republicans passed their disastrous health care legislation, which the Congressional Budget Office found would lead to higher premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs for hard-working Americans. At the same time, the House Republicans’ bill would allow for $600 billion in tax breaks to big corporations.
Additionally, an estimated 23 million Americans could lose their health care coverage under this bill, while those with pre-existing conditions will be at the mercy of their state leadership, which can opt out of guaranteeing access to affordable health care.
Before the Affordable Care Act became law, Florida was one of many states that allowed insurance companies to charge higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect Florida will opt out under this new plan if given the opportunity.
As a matter of fact, the state of Florida has previously used high-risk pools, which were unsuccessful. Insurance rates were 200-250 percent higher than comparable plans, co-pays had no maximum annual limits, and the lifetime maximum payout was $500,000. For someone who is battling cancer, that amount won’t get you very far.
The Senate has long been a beacon of democracy. It is praised for bipartisanship and taking time to examine issues in their entirety. But it seems to me that Senate Republicans have lost sight of this. Rather than upholding the values of this institution, Senate Republicans have decided to play a partisan game to gain favor with President Trump at the expense of the American people.
The health care of millions of Americans is on the line, and the time for scoring political points must end. We need to put aside the partisan bickering, roll up our sleeves and get to work. It is a sad day in America when members of Congress are unable to come together to do what’s right for the American people.
The Affordable Care Act is certainly not a perfect law, but recent polling shows the American people agree we should work to improve on what we already have in place. That is what we should be focused on in Congress right now: coming together to figure out ways to bring down health care costs, stabilizing the market, and helping to ensure more people can access the affordable health care they need and deserve.
We need to make it easier to access and afford health care in our country, and Republicans have not put us on the path to do that. Rather they have taken us back in time and created more obstacles for those who need access to care the most.
Al Lawson represents Florida's 5th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.