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AHCA in the Senate, the historic opportunity and “The Lady From Maine”

Let’s start with the formidable well-known negatives.

Ross Douthat, conservative op-ed columnist of The New York Times: 

“Over the last seven years the Republican Party has engaged in increasingly elaborate suicide attempts … Thursday’s House vote for the American Health Care Act [is] a misbegotten Obamacare quasi-replacement with the favorable ratings of diphtheria and the strong support of almost nobody on the right who cares about health policy… So two questions loom for the Republicans who voted for this terrible bill. Can the Senate save them from themselves? And if the Senate doesn’t — can the Democrats?”

Michael Dobie, a member of the Newsday editorial board is very dubious. His column, under the headline, “One-upmanship in halls of power” summarizes the situation bluntly:

“Politics is blood support in Washington and Americans are the ones hurt most … Washington’s partisanship has worsened over time … Demanding that the other side lose is part of obstructionism … No problems ever really get addressed. No warts are ever fixed. No infrastructure plan is launched. No fair tax reform occurs. No improved health care plan gets passed.” 

And the Senate’s start in the last few days hasn’t been encouraging.As GOP consultant Ann Navarro tweeted, “How the hell could Sen GOP not put 1 woman in healthcare working group? 5 great ones … to pick from.”

Furthermore, with so existential an issue, why must the Senate working group be composed of Republicans only? The many Congressional committees — Senate and House — are composed of members from both parties; the members have differing opinions but often cooperation emerges.

But wait.

On both questions, here is Republican Senator Susan Collins, co-author of her own healthcare reform bill, Sunday on ABC: “The leaders obviously chose the people they want, but I’m working hard with Senator Bill Cassidy, with our co-sponsors — we’re reaching out to Democrats. I would like to see us put together a bipartisan group to solve this challenge.”

Senator Collins predicted that “the Senate will write their own bill that solves the ‘legitimate flaws’ in the Affordable Care Act while expanding on the law’s successes. The Senate is going to start from scratch. We’re going to draft our own bill and I’m convinced we’re going to take the time to do it right.”

This Lady From Maine is ready to make history. 

And a ray of hope: The recent Congressional bipartisan budget agreement to fund the government through September.

P.S. No matter what  the emerging bill’s parentage, let’s forget about “naming rights”: Obamacare, Trumpcare, ACA, AHCA. This should be The 2017 American People’s Healthcare Act.