The ACA (otherwise known as Obamacare) was hanging in the balance, poised to be killed by a group of cold-blooded old white men that only cared about more tax breaks for themselves.
Led by the compassionless Mitch McConnell, they operated in the darkness, behind locked doors, and only with other Republicans. They turned their backs on the pleas from thousands who would sicken and possibly die without the ACA or the Medicaid expansion that went with it. Not once did they show any concern with how the people felt about what they wanted to do.
As it turned out, they had no real plan. They had seven years to come up with a better replacement to Obamacare, but it became increasingly obvious the only thing they really cared about was repeal. Every plan they came up with was worse than the last. CBO scores predicted these bills would leave tens of millions without healthcare, and kill thousands of people every year.
For months, this group kept threatening to “repeal and replace” the ACA, leaving millions of people terrified they could lose their health insurance or their loved ones could. The uncertainty and the threats to “repeal and replace” and finally, just “repeal” left people anxious and on edge, never knowing what each new day would bring.
It was like they were f*cking with our minds.
On Monday, we learned of the sad news about Senator John McCain — that he had a very malignant and usually fatal form of brain cancer called glioblastoma. In spite of his diagnosis and recent surgery for a blood clot above his left eye (which was how the cancer was discovered), he announced he would be flying to Washington to vote on whether to repeal and replace the ACA.
Because McCain is a man who always seemed to have a heart, and usually did the right thing, people were hopeful that he would be one of the few Republicans who would cast a “no” vote. In light of his serious illness, which would be treated with top of the line health insurance paid for by our taxes, how could he vote “yes” to taking healthcare away from millions, some of who might be suffering the very same illness he was?
But he did the unthinkable. He voted “yes.” People who had counted on him to do the right thing were enraged and devastated. How could he do this? People comforted themselves by trying to explain it away: “Well, you can never trust a Republican to do the right thing,” or “At the end of the day, even McCain will always vote with his own party.” I always liked McCain and this felt like a terrible betrayal. Maybe he was just like all the rest of them and had no heart either. I felt angry that I was paying for him to have such excellent healthcare, but mine would probably be taken away.
It didn’t seem to matter that McCain later gave a scathing critique of the GOP’s irresponsible and closed-door way of handling the repeal and replace issue, because he had still voted for it. His words seemed hollow.
But the GOP wasn’t done yet and neither was McCain.
Yesterday, McConnell put the “skinny” repeal bill on the table and there would be another vote. Under the “skinny” bill, only 16 million would be left uninsured — better than 23 or 24 million, but still atrocious.
All the Democratic senators and two Republicans, both women, voted “no.”
At 1:30 in the morning, there was one final vote to be cast, which would be the deciding vote, and determine whether the ACA would live or die. I for one didn’t hold a lot of hope. I don’t know about others.
The Senate went dead silent as John McCain slowly made his way up to the Senate clerk…and gave a thumbs down sign, indicating his decision was “no.” His was the third Republican “no” vote. The other two were senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. It might have been the most dramatic moment in U.S. Senate history.
John McCain, a man who is probably dying, by casting that one vote, saved thousands of other Americans from being sent to their premature deaths. He also killed the bill that would have been their death sentence.
I think McCain voted “yes” the first time in order to be able to vote “no” later and put the issue to rest for good. If he’d voted No the first time, I’m pretty sure Mitch and his lackeys would have kept trying over and over to ram their bill through and the issue would never die.
Of course, Trump will try to sabotage the ACA and keep talking about how he’s just going to let it “implode.” He thrives on scare tactics, threats, and negativity. He may succeed in sabotaging it, probably by refusing to pay the subsidies, but at least for now, those of us who rely on the ACA will be okay. We can stop holding our breath.
I think we’ll actually get to single payer, like every other civilized country. Most Democrats now support the idea, because they know there isn’t anything else that would cover more people and cost less than what we have right now. And for the first time, a majority of people are demanding it. I wonder when some moderate Republicans will begin to see that single payer is our best bet, too. It seems like in America, we have to fight so hard for things that come to other countries with relative ease. We are so far behind in so many things, especially our unnecessarily complicated and heartless healthcare system.
I’m very proud of my fellow American John McCain. He went up against his own party and defied them. In so doing, showed that his real priority is the people and that he knows the government is there to work for us, and not against us. He will be remembered fondly by history. He more than lived up to his reputation as a man with integrity and an American hero.
Thank you, Senator McCain, and I am praying for your speedy recovery.
Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and all the Democrats who voted “no” last night — thank you to all of you too.