Republicans have been promising to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act ever since it was passed. There were votes in the House over the last few years, but they were largely symbolic. They addressed repealing the current legislation, but they didn’t propose a replacement. And everyone knew that the repeal bills would fail in the Senate or be vetoed by the President. An actual proposal wasn’t necessary. Vague promises that the replacement would be “terrific” were enough.
Now Republicans have a majority in both houses of Congress and a President who says he’ll sign their bill. Their time has come. Elections really do have consequences.
The bill was passed in the House, but the Senate version has stalled, at least for now. Some Republican Senators have said they won’t support it in its current form.
That might be good news. It might mean that there’s hope for compromise, but it might mean something else. At least four Republican Senators have said they won’t support the proposed legislation because it doesn’t go far enough. They’re holding out for even more cuts. And the President has revived the notion of simply repealing the Affordable Care Act and coming up with a new plan later.
We can argue about the details. We can argue about the numbers. We can argue about how much money we might save. We can argue about how many people will lose their insurance coverage. But some things are clear. A lot of people will lose their coverage and their access medical care. And some of them will die.
There are some things that are important to us, some things that we’re willing to work hard for, and some things that we’d be willing to fight for. And, from time to time, we realize there are some things we’re willing to make sacrifices for. Those are the ones that count. Those are the ones we’ll be remembered for.
It’s easy to argue for the things we like. It’s easy to vote for them too. It’s easy to argue against the things we don’t like and to vote against them. And it’s easy to argue against and vote against the things that are good for somebody else. That may be the easiest of all – and the most common. But it isn’t something we should be proud of.
The Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect. It hasn’t solved all of the problems. Like all legislation, it’s the result of compromise after compromise. But it’s a big step in the right direction. And it makes a difference, a positive difference, for a lot of people. It makes a difference for people who have nowhere else to turn.
There are times when we’re asked to support something that might not benefit us directly, an effort to help other people. This is one of those times. How we respond will say a lot about us and about our values.
The Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee provides this column.