Last week, like many of you, I contacted my congressional representatives, posted many pieces, tweeted and retweeted dozens of pleas from the American Hospital Association, several State Hospital Associations, the National Rural Health Association, American Nurses Association, AARP and several more to say, “NO” to the AHCA. I also cautioned (myself included) that killing the Bill was nothing to celebrate. While I do believe that had it moved forward; it would have eventually failed, I was still quite relieved. The AHCA was, pure and straightforward not designed to replace the ACA with something better and certainly not in keeping with a promise to insure all Americans with something really great. If you read and understood it (which was hard to do because of how it was being patched together in the wee hours of the night), its design stripped away coverage and care, especially for the poor, elderly and already underserved, and made it far more difficult for providers, including hospitals already fighting to stay afloat. As for women, well, as the great Jill Biden so eloquently put it, “Ironically “pulling out” is the only method of birth control covered under the AHCA.” The lack of collaboration, compassion, thought, strategy and leadership is mind numbing to me.
Equally disturbing is that in the wake of such a debacle, that our elected officials still cannot (flat out refuse) recognize the importance of coming together for us, the people of the United States of America. There is no genuine will or desire to cooperate and find mutual ground to improve the current law. If there were, we wouldn’t have been chewing our nails to the nub these last few weeks and Washington would not have spent the last eight years bent on breaking each other’s backs. As Mr. Ryan said, “…it is the law of the land.” It was not then, nor is it now perfect, but it’s the best (and all) we have and those who were elected to represent you and me have a duty to uphold it and improve it.
To wish (predict or cause) it to implode or explode is beyond irresponsible. No one from any party, not the Dems, the GOP, or those on the very far side of either, should be celebrating or plotting revenge. Sadly, though, I believe they are.
Some of the interviews I’ve heard, and direct quotes I’ve read are in a word, sickening. Despite how things ‘work’ in Washington (really, this is their definition of work?) Healthcare is NOT a game. Not to hospitals, not to schools of medicine, not to health clinics or heart surgeons, not to cancer specialists and their patients. Just because politicians want to move on to something else, don’t let them. Don’t we dare let them! It’s time to finally do something together and do it well – not right or left. Stay involved, get your voice heard. Maybe for the first time in a long time, they’re listening, maybe.
Here are a few ideas to consider as we move beyond the rhetoric that has consumed us on the subject of healthcare all these months. I believe that our country will be well-served if we agree to:
1)Stop calling it Obamacare. It’s the ACA. I didn’t agree with calling the AHCA Ryancare or Trumpcare – haven’t we learned a lesson? Pin it on an individual, and you let everyone else off the hook (or fail to recognize those who had a hand at working together.) Attributing laws of the land to one individual leaves us no room to view it is an ‘us and them’ issue, just an us vs. them situation. Look how far that got us. Up until a few days ago, (and still today I bet) there are folks out there who did not know that Obamacare was the same thing as the ACA. This is not something Republicans, Democrats, the Media, the under and uniformed should be proud of. When my children were little, I made it a point to teach them the real names of their body parts. I felt they should know so as not to cause confusion later. May seem like a stretch, but think about it.
2)Ask a lot of questions with a caution to be mindful about who you’re asking. It’s hard to discern today what information is credible and what is false. Beware of sources that are heavy on the opinion and light on the facts. Also, if you live in a state or community where there is only one insurer or where there was no Medicaid expansion, dial up your representative and ask them why, and what they’ll be doing about it. Don’t let them push the default answer of blaming #44 on you. It’s not the truth, and it’s a lie that will now need to die, but you’re going to have to press for facts and details that go beyond a campaign sign or a few dozen characters.
3)This one’s on each of us. Healthcare needs all of us to do our part. Our country is in a population health crisis. Obesity, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, drug and alcohol addiction, all of these diseases are just a few of the countless reasons we (everyone)NEEDs access to affordable healthcare. With all of the talk about risk pools and such, I’m hoping that it will start more meaningful, non-judgemental conversations about prevention and the things each of us can to lower our risks, including age and history appropriate health screenings, especially now as these essential aspects of coverage remain intact. If your company offers you wellness incentives, please take advantage of them. Hospitals, all of them, offer classes and consultations. Also, the entire Patient Portal concept was designed with us in mind. There has been billions of both tax payer and industry dollars invested in the ACA to HELP not HARM us by connecting us to care and information. Take advantage of it. If we don’t derive the value from it, who is that helping?
As the Monday morning, March 23rd headlines read, there is plenty of blame to go around on this one. Ironically, and not surprisingly, nobody is taking responsibility. My question is, what good does blame do any of us? As a healthcare strategist and long-time facilitator who helps leaders and teams get ‘unstuck’ when they can’t seem to move forward, I promise you, blame is unproductive and destructive, and it won’t help us move forward. Clearly.