It was a historic moment in the U.S. Capital early this morning as the U.S. Senate voted to reject a bill that would partially repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who just days ago underwent brain surgery, walked to the front of the floor, extended his arm and quietly gave the bill a thumbs-down vote, joining two other Republicans and all Senate Democrats in the bill’s defeat. His vote was less about the need to change the ACA, and more about moving Congress to work together on a bipartisan approach to health care legislation that is meaningful and long-lasting.
Back here in San Diego, I had the pleasure this morning of attending graduation for the latest group of high school interns here at Scripps Health. Though this was a long way from the Senate floor in Washington D.C., for me it drove home the importance of what we do in health care, why we do it and why it’s so important to take the time to get things right. After weeks of shadowing our physicians, nurses and staff, the kids saw the work was hard, but also very fulfilling. They were inspired by their experience, and I was inspired by them and reminded once again about what truly matters.
The health care vote in Washington is important, but not as important as what we do every day and ensuring we’re able to do it. For now at least, the ACA will continue with its current provisions for care delivery. Despite its challenges with reduced reimbursements, this will provide us some increased stability as we plan for the future.
That said, when it comes to health care legislation, representatives from both parties agree the ACA needs to be changed. But any health care bill passed unilaterally by one party – whether it’s the ACA in 2010 or repeal/replace in 2017 – will not stand the test of time. Something as complex, life-changing and personal as health care deserves thoughtful consideration and debate and a true dialogue with those on the front lines of health care delivery. It’s true that a bipartisan process will take longer, but our patients and the health care marketplace could benefit from that continued dialogue.
In the meantime, all of us at Scripps should remember what I recognized again this morning. Despite the uncertainty and changes in our profession, our focus needs to be on what we do each day, why we do it and why it’s important to get things right. We are busier than ever and must continue growing to meet the community’s needs.
To all of our physicians and staff members, I say thank you for all you do for our patients, for Scripps and for each other. Thank you for making a difference.