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Opinion: Democrats and Republicans now have a chance to work together to improve the ACA

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes

This week, Republicans once again threatened to rip away the promise of affordable quality health care for American families. The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson amendment was irresponsible, harmful and the wrong approach to solving the issue at hand. Now, more than ever, there is an urgent need for bipartisan cooperation to improve the Affordable Care Act.

In recent months, Democratic energy has been intensely focused on opposing the almost fanatical efforts to tear down the Affordable Care Act. Not surprisingly, after seven years, Republicans had no real plan to replace the Act, much less one that delivered on the president’s promise of great health care for all. Republicans simply threatened to pull the rug out from under America’s families – taking away their coverage, their access to health care and threatening their economic security.

Our opposition was not based on thoughtless partisanship or some need to defend President Obama’s legacy; like most of America, we don’t want to go back to a world in which many Americans are uninsurable or incapable of affording health insurance. We will be the first to admit that the ACA is not perfect; there are many actions Congress and the administration should take to improve our health care system and ensure that all Americans have access to affordable health care. For starters, the administration should use its authority to stabilize individual insurance markets instead of sabotaging them. From there, we should all agree on the twin goals of universal coverage and significant cost control.

Congress must act in a bipartisan way to improve the ACA. The individual market, accounting for seven percent of health care enrollees nationwide, needs improvement. That is why I, along with several other Members of the forward-thinking, pro-economic growth New Democrat Coalition, released a set of proposals over two months ago to stabilize health insurance markets and bring down the cost of healthcare for all Americans. The proposals outline ways to create a permanent reinsurance program, reduce healthcare costs for low-income Americans, promote greater insurance coverage, create more affordable insurance options, and improve the marketplaces.

These proposals, a result of conversations with health care experts, fellow Democrats, and our House Republican colleagues, identified ways to improve our health care system before many Democrats openly admitted to the ACA’s imperfections.

After releasing its proposals, the New Democrat Coalition called on Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to lead in a bipartisan manner to stabilize and improve the individual health insurance market while protecting the Affordable Care Act. I then joined the Problem Solvers Caucus in releasing a bipartisan set of solutions to stabilize health insurance markets and provide relief to individuals, families and small businesses. More than a statement of policy, this collection of ideas shows that Democrats and Republicans can work together on even the most challenging of topics to make progress. Govs. John Kasich of Ohio and John Hickenlooper of Colorado stepped forward to show bipartisan support on these proposals, urging Congress to act. The best way to make the individual market stronger is cooperation that advances meaningful, lasting reform and I am committed to building a bipartisan consensus to improve the individual marketplaces.

With this issue gaining attention and momentum in Congress, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) held hearings on stabilizing premiums in the individual insurance market so that the 18 million Americans in the individual market will be able to buy insurance at affordable prices in the year 2018 and started working on a bipartisan proposal. Moving forward, Congress needs to craft responsible reforms to bring long-term stability and predictability to the individual market.

There was a glimmer of hope that Democrats and Republicans would come together to discuss real solutions to improve the ACA that has made tremendous progress for millions of people. This week we found ourselves again banding together to save health care access for millions of Americans when we could have been capitalizing on the bipartisan momentum created by the New Democrat Coalition, Problem Solvers Caucus, and Senate Health Committee to address the pressing problems of market stabilization in our health care system. I am glad Republican leaders have abandoned their most recent attempt to take away Americans’ access to affordable health care. Now I urge congressional leaders to get back to working on a viable bipartisan path forward.

Jim Himes represents the 4th District of Connecticut and is chair of the New Democrat Coalition.

8 comments

Rick October 1, 2017 at 11:46 am

this guy is useless not once has he worked with us on Quintard to stop federal money from destroying the city.He is like a tick grabs onto you sucks you dry and then finds another voter to prey on.His supporters are leaches hanging on for a free ride.

I just don’t like the guy he has shown no support after 100s of calls from his own leaches whats that tell you about this man?

With any luck those who have seen his behavior when asked to help will find another candidate as they move more to the right.

I have to thank him tho I din.t need anyone to convince voters he was a loser they did it by observing his arrogance and inability to pick up the phone reach out and at least look at our fight. He instead used the cant get involved in court matters.

Norwalkers matter and he could care less.

There is no argument among his flock in South Norwalk ,he could ice cream out and no one would care its gotten so bad with his crap he spews on things in DC.

New Democrat Coalition? The old one doesn’t want him either ,that tells you a lot about this who have been a victim of his ignorance and arrogance

Yes its personal

Jim your office called me friday guess the only one in your office, a friend of 15 years working on Norwalks democratic elections has left the new woman started in by saying Jim doesn’t get involved , I suggested to read NON 45 articles plus and find a comment from Jim and get back to me.Court has nothing to do with it ,Firtree has been indicted on federal charges this has nothing to do with Norwalk.

If this plays out right there will be no 2 million dollar suit against Norwalk concerning loss of federal prison contracts they may lose all the contracts with the BOF . They are now pulling some related to the sealed indictments of last week that were opened.

IRS evading and Feds suggest they ripped off Federal prisons while under contract

Trust me folks Jim s office will never call back , they have no defenses Jim is a no show when heavy lifting is involved he has a weak mind weak back he is a weak politician is what I see ,took my rose colored glasses off when I realized the democratic politicians are all the same in Ct ,,they latch onto herds and find the weakest member to court.

No help from Jim cant even call to a guy who held your signs and gave blood.

Thanks Jim you made our case against you easier to sell.

Paul Lanning October 1, 2017 at 10:31 pm

Rather than collaborate with Democrats on solutions for the ACA’s flaws, Congressional Republicans have spent the whole year attempting to fund an historic tax cut for the wealthy via ACA repeal.

They still won’t give up trying. Meanwhile, the Administration is sabotaging the ACA by shortening the enrollment period, shutting down the website “for maintenance” every Sunday during the enrollment period, defunding necessary outreach personnel and advertising, and causing insurance companies uncertainty.

Rick October 2, 2017 at 3:28 pm

That promised phone call never came any one surprised ?

Why work with people like Himes,or Murphy they don’t work with us.

Ct causing insurance companies uncertainty its in then news again today not a Republican problem is it?

Bryan Meek October 2, 2017 at 5:59 pm

It cost $10 million to launch Amazon.com. You can get just about any product made in the world on your doorstep in a few days.

It cost $600 million to launch the ACA systems. It can barely handle a fraction of the volume of goods and services.

The worst parts of it have been deferred by Obama’s executive orders and without anyone doing anything else in the next year, will totally destroy local and city budgets when the Cadillac tax kicks in.

All of this doesn’t really matter when compared to the drop offs on med school applications. Fortunately for us, this was never fully implemented. Unfortunately for us, we have a Congresman who is just waking up to the fact, six years later, that this is the worst piece of legislation in the history of the country and will eventually bankrupt us if left unchanged.

Rick October 3, 2017 at 7:51 am

Maybe Jim HImes office will call back today their homework was to read NON and the 45 plus articles on Firetree and get back to me.They promised.

We will hear more about money raised from this ex wall st clown than how he will help us out i bet.

Donna Smirniotopoulos October 3, 2017 at 1:16 pm

@Rick, I had pretty good responsiveness from Himes office on Firetree from Mike Dunne. I had very mediocre responsiveness from Muphy’s office. In the early going, Firetree was dismissed as being a local issue, in spite of it being a Federal contract.

Hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but we will wind up with a single payer system to provide basic, bare bones coverage for all. We’ve already done single payer with Medicare and Medicaid. If we want icing on our Melba toast, we’ll have to pay for that ourselves. The problem with the ACA is it didn’t do enough to control costs. Premiums are too high. Medical costs are too high. Hospitalizations are too high. Drugs are too expensive. The ACA did very little to address these issues. Most of the escalation in medical costs occurred with the advent of HMOs in the ‘70s. My mother used to charge $8 for a Pap smear. Now the average cost is over $200. And I promise you, the pathologists aren’t the ones making the money. Most are read by cytotechnologists. A CBC was $10. It’s not that test tubes cost more. It’s not just the cost of newer and better equipment. It’s the MBAs wanting to get their pound of flesh out of the health care delivery system. Add to that the failure of tort reform, keeping medical malpractice insurance ridiculously high. Add to that administrative mismanagement and duplicative testing in hospitals, and you start to see how we got into this mess where we cannot afford to take care of ourselves. So it’s not that the ACA was conceptually bad. It’s that the ACA didn’t go far enough to control costs across the board and to hold the stakeholders on the receiving end of our health care dollars accountable.

Bryan Meek October 3, 2017 at 2:48 pm

You are correct, I believe, that we will end up with “single payer” once the ACA crushes everything that was decent about our medical industry.
The new system will be run just like the DMV. The “wealthy” will be able to afford out of network specialists with their own money, unless that practice is made illegal like it is in Cuba. The rest of us can wait years for basic services or just watch some youtube videos before performing surgeries at home.

Donna Smirniotopoulos October 3, 2017 at 5:22 pm

@Bryan, I don’t think it will be quite that bleak. The medical professionals in my family are in favor of a single payer system. Doctors aren’t taught how to run businesses in med school, and for most processing insurance claims is onerous. Tort reform would make a big difference in our costs. Many doctors are at the point that they would prefer to be part of a system like Cleveland Clinic or Mayor Clinic. I was hospitalized a few years ago for about a week. The waste and duplication was breathtaking, most of it to prevent lawsuits. Many, many patients could be managed more effectively at home with visiting nurse care, and much lower costs. But the hospitals aren’t ready to move in this direction. We over diagnose and over treat. We need to undergo a major philosophical shift in health care delivery and move to something more wellness oriented.

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NancyOnNorwwalk.com was conceived as the place to go for Norwalk residents to get the real, unvarnished story about what is going on in and around their city. NancyOnNorwalk does not intend to be a print newspaper online; rather, it exists to pull the curtain back and shine a spotlight on how Norwalk is run and what is happening regarding issues that have an impact on taxpayers’ pocketbooks and safety. As an independent site, NancyOnNorwalk’s first and only allegiance is to the reader.

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Nancy came to Norwalk in September 2010 and, after reporting on Norwalk for two years for another company, resigned to begin Nancy On Norwalk so she engage in journalism the way it was meant to be done. She is married to career journalist Mark Chapman, has a son, Eric (the artist and web designer who built this website), and two cats – a middle-aged lady and a young hottie who are learning how to peacefully co-exist.