July 28, 2017


Looks like I inadvertently picked an eventful weekend for a family road trip. At the time we planned it, nobody could have known that the latest round in the health care fight would come to a climax while we were traveling.

I tried as best I could to follow events by peeking at Twitter, but by bedtime it looked like curtains for the Affordable Care Act...which would mean curtains for real for some who would lose coverage.

I was blown away to learn this morning that John McCain earned Uber-Maverick status by his vote, which effectively killed this attempt to repeal (and maybe replace) the ACA.

I did not see this coming. In fact, when he came back from his hospital stay and voted for the Motion to Proceed, I was feeling pretty snarky. It seemed to me that he came back from receiving health care to a vote to take it away from others.

I was SOOOO wrong and I apologize to Senator McCain for even thinking this.

Instead, he chose that dramatic moment to act with the all too rare courage of a statesman. A longtime opponent of the ACA, he wants whatever happens with health care to be an improvement for the American people done in an open and transparent way.

Here's his statement:

"From the beginning, I have believed that Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with a solution that increases competition, lowers costs, and improves care for the American people. The so-called ‘skinny repeal’ amendment the Senate voted on today would not accomplish those goals. While the amendment would have repealed some of Obamacare’s most burdensome regulations, it offered no replacement to actually reform our health care system and deliver affordable, quality health care to our citizens. The Speaker’s statement that the House would be ‘willing’ to go to conference does not ease my concern that this shell of a bill could be taken up and passed at any time.

“I’ve stated time and time again that one of the major failures of Obamacare was that it was rammed through Congress by Democrats on a strict-party line basis without a single Republican vote. We should not make the mistakes of the past that has led to Obamacare’s collapse, including in my home state of Arizona where premiums are skyrocketing and health care providers are fleeing the marketplace. We must now return to the correct way of legislating and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of aisle, heed the recommendations of nation’s governors, and produce a bill that finally delivers affordable health care for the American people. We must do the hard work our citizens expect of us and deserve."

Talk about a profile in courage. I hope his stand will help bring about a ration effort to fix what's broken with the ACA while keeping what works, one that follows the oath of Hippocrates: "First do no harm."

Talk about a movie ending--one that I'd like to see.

Thank you, Senator McCain! I wish there was more of this kind of courage closer to home.

July 24, 2017

Last chance?

Not to be too dramatic about it, but this could be the last chance to try to preserve health care for millions of Americans, including kids, seniors and working people. In WV alone nearly 300,000 kids are covered by Medicaid, which also pays for over half of births and around 70 percent of long term care. Medicaid expansion as of today covers around 171,000 West Virginians.

Last week, Senator Capito seemed to be standing strong. Today it's hard to tell. And tomorrow is show time.

What can you do? You probably saw this coming, but keep calling Senator Capito's offices (the more the  merrier) and say something like "Stay strong. Vote no on taking away health care from WV."

DC office:  202-224-6472
Beckley: 304-347-5372
Charleston: 304-347-5372
Martinsburg:  304-262-9285
Morgantown: 304-292-2310

July 23, 2017

Lotta ins, lotta outs

The ongoing health care controversy reminds me of a line from The Big Lebowski. But then, almost everything reminds me of a line from that move. The line is question is "This is a very complicated case, Maude. You know, a lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-you's." Some of those are laid out in this story from WV Public Broadcasting.

In the latest Front Porch podcast, I gave some props to WV Senator Shelley Moore Capito for her statement on preserving coverage for her constituents in the state. I'm hoping that wasn't a case of speaking too soon. It's a bit hard to interpret her latest statement on the subject.

Worst case interpretation: she votes for a bad bill after some cosmetic changes are made to the old ones. Better case is that she really does hold out until there are guaranteed protection for things like traditional Medicaid, Medicaid expansion, CHIP and opioid treatment.

In a rational world, not that one exists anywhere near this one, there would be some bipartisan problem solving to fix the parts of the Affordable Care Act that need fixing, such as the individual market, while keeping what is working.

Recently, we interviewed several people affected by the ACA in Kanawha County WV. Some loved the coverage they had. Some hated it. All seemed to agree on this core message: "Make it better but don't take anything away."