Government working together? What a concept!
An eight-year campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act got a thumbs-down from the U.S. Senate 10 days ago, leaving Americans fearful for the future of health care.
The rising costs and instability that exists with the ACA demand some type of solution: Letting it implode or fall to rhetoric about the “disaster” that its opponents claim does not solve anything for the American people.
And so we citizens are left wondering what’s next.
Here’s a wild idea: How about members of the U.S. Congress work together, across the aisle, to solve the problem? In fact, why not work together to solve the many problems facing our great nation, starting with the governmental paralysis born out of our national divisiveness.
Ideally, Congress as a whole should be a bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, but instead it has too often functioned as two parties with bringing the other side down taking precedence over working together. Health care reform is the poster child for that behavior with Republicans caught up in un-doing President Obama’s signature legislation rather than focusing on the health care needs of the nation.
Against this backdrop, the Problem Solvers Caucus in Congress is a positive step, and we are pleased that this region’s representatives are part of that movement.
U.S. Reps. Ryan Costello, R6th Dist., Pat Meehan, R-7th Dist., and Lloyd Smucker, R16th Dist., are members of the caucus. They make up Chester County’s legislative delegation in Washington and include Delaware, Montgomery and Berks counties.
Also, U.S. Reps. Charlie Dent, R-15th, of Allentown, Brian K. Fitzpatrick, R-8th, of Bucks County, and Glenn Thompson, R-5th, of Centre County round out the six representatives from Pennsylvania who are part of the caucus.
Digital First Media reporter Michael Rellahan reported recently that the group of 44 Republicans and Democrats announced “a set of principles to advance solutions to address the destabilized individual health care market. These bipartisan proposals focus on areas they can find broad consensus to work together to stabilize the health care industry.”
“By resetting the health care conversation in Congress, the caucus members are attempting to set the stage ‘for the kind of bipartisan solutions that Americans have been yearning for’ and ‘restore some predictability as insurance companies make decisions about premium prices in 2018,’ according to the release,” Rellahan wrote.
“Task one is to stabilize the insurance marketplace this year for all Americans,” said Costello in a statement. “We need to ultimately implement sustainable reforms to improve our health care system, and it needs to be anchored from the ideological center in order to pass both chambers of Congress and have the confidence of the American public.”
Costello, in an interview, said he would work to bring the matter to the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee, of which he is a member, Rellahan reported. The danger of leaving the ACA’s cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments in the hand of the Trump Administration, which has threatened to suspend them on a month-bymonth basis, or any administration, is untenable, he said.
“You need to handle things on a responsible way that protects constituents and the health care system as we know it,” Costello said.
“The last great hope for this country is that Republicans and Democrats prove they can work together,” said caucus Co-Chairman U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, a New York Republican. “We’ve locked arms to continue the fight for the American people, their families and their health care.
“We as a caucus, will continue to work together with bipartisan dignity and commitment to the American people, who deserve stable health care and a functional Congress.”
We applaud this effort, even as we regret that it’s necessary to create a problem-solving mechanism. Problem-solving is what congressional representatives are elected to accomplish. Working together for the good of their constituencies is what we expect.
By signing on to Problem Solvers, the Congressional delegation from this region has proven its willingness to embrace a citizens-first mentality rather than politics-first.
We urge all 18 members of Congress from Pennsylvania to join.
With numbers, there is hope for leadership that focuses on solutions that unite and create a truly greater America.