(CNN)A heartfelt standing ovation from both sides of the aisle welcomed Sen. John McCain as he cast the 50th vote to take up Obamacare repeal. The decorated veteran and war hero, who returned to Washington after being diagnosed with brain cancer last week, said “to hell” with the “bombastic loudmouths” — it’s time to get something done.
With that, Senate Republicans have taken the first step in what will likely be a marathon effort to reform health care by voting to proceed with repealing Obamacare. Vice President Mike Pence cast the tiebreaking vote. Zero Democrats supported the measure.
The 2016 election was a call for change after Americans lost faith in the failed policies of the Democratic Party. Republicans campaigned and won on the promise to repeal Obamacare. They must deliver on their promises.
Congress needs to continue taking steps to follow through on its promise to repeal Obamacare.
After the Senate vote, President Trump said, “This is the beginning of the end of the disaster known as Obamacare.”
After pulling the original Senate bill due to lack of support, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell managed to move some Senate GOP votes by making the pitch to simply open the debate on a couple of options.
The motion to proceed begins discussion on support for the 2015 repeal bill or the Better Care Reconciliation Act, known as BRCA. The proposed BRCA is a patient-centered, free-market approach that will cut the deficit, lower premiums and increase options. The bill will expand tax-free health savings accounts, give more funding control back to the states, protect pre-existing conditions, and allocate $45 billion to combat the opioid epidemic.
McConnell’s strategy of starting a marathon with a few small steps won the day.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky had been a confirmed “no” until now. But he voted in support of the motion to proceed, saying to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday, “Let’s start small and see how many pieces of repeal we can agree on.”
Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada (who is facing a tough re-election campaign next year) also opposed the first pass at health care repeal because it didn’t protect Medicaid funding in his state. The former holdout voted to proceed because, as he told CNN, “Doing nothing to try and solve the problems it [Obamacare] has created isn’t the answer either.”
Sen. Ted Cruz also supported the motion to proceed, saying, “The American people rightfully expect us to keep our promises and get the job done.”
The reality is that Obamacare has been dying on the vine. In 2009, Democrats made promises: if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor; if you like your plan, you can keep your plan. For millions of Americans, that was not the case.
Although Obamacare implemented a higher standard for policies, a report from the Department of Health and Human Services noted that, since 2013, premiums have more than doubled nationwide and next year, people buying insurance in Obamacare exchanges in 45 counties across the country could have no insurance carriers to choose from.
Voters sent Republicans to Washington to make good on their campaign promises to deliver relief from the Obamacare nightmare, and Congress needs to follow through and do just that.
As Ronald Reagan liked to say: “There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers.”
The same principle applies to health care reform. We all knew repealing Obamacare would be difficult, but the simple fact remains: The time is now for Republicans to act on health care, even if they have to do it by taking small steps at a time.