Well my friends, in perhaps one of our country’s most epic dramas to date on Capitol Hill, it was announced earlier this week that the Senate does not have a majority to pass their revised version of the American Health Care Act. For those of you new to my blog, I have written a series of posts related to the healthcare reform and how it impacts the breast cancer space (you can see those posts here, here, and here). I find this news to be incredibly important and yet lacking in the daily conversation on breast cancer. Since a lot of this news is still ongoing, all I want to do today is provide a brief update for those of you not news updates and provide some context as to why all this political drama is important.
So first let’s do a quick recap of the healthcare drama. Around seven years ago, the Obama administration successfully passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) AKA Obamacare through the House and Senate. In short, the ACA fundamentally promised that the federal government would provide more affordable healthcare, insure more Americans, and ultimately help make America healthier overall. The Republicans have rumbled and grumbled ever since about how the ACA is crippling our nation’s healthcare system by reducing competition among healthcare providers, over-expanding Medicare and Medicaid, and increasing healthcare premiums. When President Trump was elected into office last November, Capitol Hill also became majority Republican dominated. House and Senate Republicans were ecstatic, “Finally,” they said to themselves, “this is our chance to repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all.”
Except, that path has not been as clean as Republicans would have liked. The Affordable Healthcare Act (AHCA) AKA Trumpcare was proposed, but Majority Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and the Republican leadership pulled it from a vote back in March 2017 when it was clear they wouldn’t have the votes to pass it. The AHCA was revamped suddenly as Trumpcare 2.0 and passed back in May, even though there literally Republicans that admitted that didn’t even read the revised bill that if anything, was even more extreme than the original. Then over the last few weeks, behind closed doors a tightly controlled group of Republican senators heavily revised the AHCA and in late June, unveiled the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). Hoping it would pass, Republican senators started to drop like dominoes, and as of this past Monday the bill doesn’t have enough votes to pass leaving Senate Majorjity Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in a tight spot. Panicking, this past Tuesday President Trump and McConnell proposed that the Senate should consider a bill that simply repeals and not replaces Obamacare. However, that proposition is not proving to be widely popular, and now Senate Republicans are heavily divided about what to do.
The healthcare debate is in one of the tightest political deadlocks this country has ever seen. Bipartisan compromise is virtually not an option in our nation’s capital. The tension does not seem to have an end in sight.
In my initial post on the subject, I talk about why the ACA is generally an improvement for women diagnosed with breast cancer. In a follow-up post I write about the detriment the AHCA plays by not covering preexisting conditions like breast cancer. And now here I am, unsure how to think and how to feel. To quote Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) I’m not doing a ‘touchdown dance’ over another failed attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare. This fight doesn’t feel totally dead yet, especially with our president being totally cool with letting the ACA totally collapse to prove a point, letting probably an ungodly amount of Americans die in the process. However, the ACA isn’t without its problems, as Republicans are right to an extent in saying that premiums are high and competition among providers in certain counties nationwide is virtually nonexistent. I obviously don’t trust the Republican Party, but I don’t really feel enamored by the Democratic Party either. Neither party wants to budge — it’s easier not just for our President, but for all our elected officials, to point fingers, place blame, and even namecall on Twitter than to put an end to this healthcare reform bullshit.
A few weeks ago, I talked about five ways you can be proactive in your efforts to protect and preserve affordable healthcare that protects women with breast cancer. We can’t give up now, our voices need to continue to be heard. Premiums are at a risk of skyrocketing if a bill similar to the AHCA/BCRA passes. Less preventive services will be covered like mammograms. Medicare is at risk of serious cuts, which affects older women with breast cancer. Truthfully, I’m just as fed up with my elected officials as the grand majority of Americans probably are, but at the end of the day this is our democratic system that we need to use proactively if we want it to protect us.
We can continue to donate to pink ribbon campaigns all we want, but if our government is unable to effectively regulate healthcare, the pink ribbon goodwill won’t mean shit, hell my blog won’t even mean shit — the majority of us will be screwed. Sorry friends, breast cancer is political, and it’s time we either get real about it or face the strong potential for dire consequences that can be a detriment to all of us.
I will continue to post about this subject and will follow-up with updates as appropriately. This topic is too important not to talk about, especially for the 40K women in the US that are expected to die this year from breast cancer.