Partisan politics blocking any real reform of ACA: Stupak

HOUGHTON — Former congressman Bart Stupak, who cast a key vote to pass the Affordable Care Act, said a partisan process for replacing the act has prevented any meaningful reform.

Stupak visited Houghton to promote his new book, “For All Americans: The Dramatic Story Behind the Stupak Amendment and the Historic Passage of Obamacare.”

Though unpopular throughout much of President Barack Obama’s term, esteem for the ACA has jumped this year during Republican efforts to repeal the bill.

But even Republicans such as Sen. John McCain, who criticized the Republican bills for bypassing committee hearings and committee hearings, have said the ACA process was just as bad.

That is not a fair criticism, Stupak said, pointing to statistics comparing the amount of deliberation between the two.

For instance, the Republicans’ most recent health care bill, Graham-Cassidy, was released two weeks before the deadline for the final vote, had a one-day committee hearing and did not get a full score from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

By contrast, two Senate committees spent three weeks marking up the ACA. That was followed by 25 days of debate before the Senate.

“There’s been no real debate on health care since we passed the Affordable Care Act,” Stupak said after the event. “Sixty-two or 63 percent of the House members weren’t even there when we talked about health care. So what we’re seeing are political slogans, not thoughtful policy … that’s why they can’t pass anything or repeal the Affordable Care Act.”

With the chance of passing a health care bill with 50 votes done for the year, Stupak is optimistic about the hope for bipartisan ideas, such as Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Washington Sen. Patty Murray’s efforts to stabilize the individual markets.

“The president, I’ll give him some credit, he’s somewhat correct on this: If you don’t know what your cost on health care is going to be, how do you make sure you do tax policy which takes it into consideration?” Stupak said after the event. “… If you would have had a plan, it might be easier to do health care reform and taxes, or been easier to do taxes, because you’d know what your costs would be.”