Can’t We All Just Get Along? John McCain’s Call for Bipartisanship on Healthcare Reform

In the wee hours of Friday morning, July 28th, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) approached the well of the United States Senate to cast a “No” vote against the Republican leadership’s final shot at passing a bill to replace and repeal key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – more commonly known as “Obamacare.” McCain’s vote followed a passionate plea he made to his Senate colleagues just days before – urging both Republicans and Democrats to avoid partisanship and instead work together to fix our country’s healthcare system.

McCain stated, “Why don’t we try the old way of legislating in the Senate, the way our rules and customs encourage us to act… let’s return to regular order. Let the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee under Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray hold hearings, try to report a bill out of committee with contributions from both sides. Then bring it to the floor for amendment and debate, and see if we can pass something that will be imperfect, full of compromises, and not very pleasing to implacable partisans on either side, but that might provide workable solutions to problems Americans are struggling with today.”

McCain continued, “What have we to lose by trying to work together to find those solutions? We’re not getting much done apart. I don’t think any of us feels very proud of our incapacity. Merely preventing your political opponents from doing what they want isn’t the most inspiring work. There’s greater satisfaction in respecting our differences, but not letting them prevent agreements that don’t require abandonment of core principles, agreements made in good faith that help improve lives and protect the American people.”

John McCain’s words, followed by his actions that early Friday morning, hopefully signal a return to bipartisanship on healthcare reform. In the wake of Senator McCain’s courageous stand, moderates from both sides of the aisle in Congress have now publicly announced that they are working together to develop legislation to address a number of critical issues with Obamacare. For example, 43 lawmakers in the House have come together as the Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus and have unveiled a proposal that they believe will “stabilize health insurance markets and provide relief to individuals, families and small businesses.” On the Senate side, HELP Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) just announced a series of committee hearings on healthcare reform for September that will feature testimony from state insurance commissioners, patients, governors, health care experts and insurance companies.

While the odds are still slim that Republicans and Democrats will be able to bridge their differences and craft a package that will be pleasing to bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate, we should feel encouraged that the American people will hopefully have a chance to be part of the process this time around.

If you are an OAC member and would like to share the OCC’s Healthcare Reform Principles with your legislators on Capitol Hill, please contact the OAC at info@obesityaction.org  and we will help you reach out to your Senators and Representative within your state.

About the Obesity Care Continuum:

The leading obesity advocate groups founded the Obesity Care Continuum (OCC) in 2010 to better influence the healthcare reform debate and its impact on those affected by overweight and obesity. Currently, the OCC is composed of the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), the Obesity Society (TOS), the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), and the Obesity Medicine Association (OMA). With a combined membership of more than 125,000 patient and healthcare professional advocates, the OCC covers the full scope of care from nutrition, exercise and weight management through pharmacotherapy to device and bariatric surgery. Members of the OCC also challenge weight bias and stigma-oriented policies – whenever and wherever they occur.



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