Email #115, Subject: “repeal” or “build”?

Following the defeat of the American Health Care Act, you wrote in your e-newsletter: “Congress must continue working to come to a consensus on legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare.” You said this is necessary because of “unaffordable premiums, higher deductibles, and lack of choice and access that far too many folks in the Sixth District and across the country have experienced firsthand.”

While your statements might seem to oppose President Obama, he expressed some of the same concerns following the defeat of the AHCA too: “I’ve always said we should build on this law, just as Americans of both parties worked to improve Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid over the years. So if Republicans are serious about lowering costs while expanding coverage to those who need it, and if they’re prepared to work with Democrats and objective evaluators in finding solutions that accomplish those goals — that’s something we all should welcome.”

Though your core difference is obvious—you want to “repeal and replace Obamacare” and he wants to “build on” it—your shared goals are obvious too. You just state them in negative terms: “unaffordable premiums, higher deductibles, and lack of choice and access,” while he states them in positive terms: “lowering costs and expanding coverage.” You and President Obama also seem to agree on a path forward. You say Congress must “come to consensus,” and he says Republicans should “work with Democrats.” The result would be the same.

When I called your office to ask you to oppose the flawed ACHA, your intern asked me if I supported the ACA. I told him I was neutral toward it. If the choice is between the ACHA and the ACA, or the ACA and nothing, I prefer the ACA. But I would much rather have a new health care bill that improved on the ACA. I don’t care if that means “repeal” or “build on.” I don’t support the ACA because it’s been branded as Obama’s legacy. I support the ACA because I believe in its goals.

You said you are “interested in any health care proposal that lowers health care costs for all Americans.” The AHCA failed to pass because it would have failed to achieve those goals.  As you have argued so forcefully in the past, the status quo is not good enough. Because the Republican party controls both houses of Congress and the White House, it remains the Republican party’s responsibility to find a path forward.

What steps are you taking to build bipartisan legislation that will correct the flaws of the ACA?

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Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University where he teaches creative writing, contemporary fiction, and comics. He has published two novels, Pretend I'm Not Here (HarperCollins 2002) and School For Tricksters (Southern Methodist University 2011), and two nonfictions, On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa University 2015) and Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury forthcoming 2017).

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