Friday, July 28, 2017

Heroic senators save healthcare for millions: Mazie Hirono, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins & John McCain

This week, the U.S. Senate's Republicans made several attempts to do away or weaken the Affordable Care Act.
UPDATED: July 29, added video of Sen. Mazie Hirono's speech.)

THERE WERE many heroes in the U.S. Senate's dramatic vote on health care that took place in the wee hours of Friday (July 28).

The 48 Democrats needed three GOP defections to keep the Republicans from repealing or weakening President Obama's Affordable Care Act.

The amendment fell, 51-49, to the consternation of the GOP majority and Trump administration. If it had passed up to 22 million people would lose their health insurance.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski stood firm against the public threats from the Trump administration that would withhold funds from Alaska initiatives. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke made it clear that her vote might affect the state's energy and mining industries

Sen. Susan Collins remained consistent in her opposition to Trumpcare (which basically is no-care) because of the negative impact it would have on hundreds of thousands of her Maine constituents and the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

In the most dramatic moment, Sen. John McCain, with a scar above his left eye from an operation just a few days ago, strode down the aisle and gave a thumbs down to the so-called "skinny repeal" of Obamacare, which would have kept The Affordable Care Act but do away with some objectionable portions of it. 

McCain cast the pivotal vote because up to the time he voted, it was not clear which way he would go. Tuesday he gave a strong emotional appeal for the Senate to return to "regular order" and let the senators come up a health plan through committees, public hearings and compromise. However his vote Wednesday to open debate on the Republican proposal puzzled pundits and Congress watchers, who began thinking his vote was up for grabs.  
Hawaii's Sen. Mazie Hirono, like McCain, also left her sickbed in Honolulu to recover from cancer surgery in order to participate in this vote. Hirono said that both she and McCain are acutely aware of the advantages they have for the outstanding medical care that they received because they could afford it.

Standing before the Senate, minutes before the critical vote on the "skinny repeal," Hirono gave an emotional appeal shaming her Republican colleagues.

“Where is your compassion? Where is the care that you showed me when I was diagnosed with my illness?” she asked. “I find it hard to believe that we can sit here and vote on a bill that is going to hurt millions and millions of people in our country. We are better than that.”

She fought back tears as she recalled her family's immigrant journey from Japan to Hawaii. “And now, here I am a United States senator,” Hirono said. “I am fighting kidney cancer, and I’m just so grateful that I had health insurance so that I could concentrate on the care that I needed rather than how the heck I was going to afford the care that would probably save my life.”

It should also be mentioned the American people who for six months kept the pressure on the politicians by writing letters, calling their offices, attending their town halls to urge them to fix Obamacare or how the ACA helped them or their family. Democracy came alive.

After seven years, the Repubicans have failed to come up with a responsible option to Obamacare. The GOP might actually have to talk to Democrats in order to improve the ACA flaws that even President Obama says is needed.