Republicans deserve more credit than Democrats give them when it comes to health care

Many suburban women tell me their #1 concern is health…and many of them don’t buy into the Democrats’ weak narrative that Republicans are anti-health because of their opposition to Obamacare.

The truth is, Republicans proposed nearly a third of the health care bills that were proposed in the 117th Congress and signed on as co-sponsors on many more. For example, two of our members have been particularly bipartisan – Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania co-sponsored more than 200 health care bills in the House and Senator Susan Collins of Maine co-sponsored 74 of 530 of the Senate. pieces of healthcare bills.

The numbers highlight the hurdle Republicans face in getting legislation passed and, sadly, the Senate’s continued refusal to move the bills forward. Of the 458 health care bills proposed by Republicans so far this year:

  • Only 25 have passed a chamber and only two have become law (including South Carolina Senator Tim Scott’s FASTER Act of 2021 (S.578) that expands the definition of major food allergens for certain food labeling requirements and expands food allergy research and data collection).
  • Senators introduced 530 health-related bills and only 37 passed their chambers. The numbers are even more striking when you consider that 30 of the 37 resolutions that received near-unanimous approval (nine of them were from Republicans) designate months and days for events such as Cancer Awareness Month. stomach cancer and National Brain Tumor Awareness Month.

Perfectly reasonable House bills proposed by Republicans and passed by this chamber have run into inexplicable obstacles in the Senate, including:

  • The Cardiovascular Advances in Research and Opportunities Legacy Act (CAROL) Act (HR1193), proposed by Rep. Andy Barr of Kentucky with 183 co-sponsors. The bill honors his late wife, Carol Leavell Barr, and would make critical investments in valvular heart disease research.
  • The SHINE for Autumn Act (HR5487), proposed by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington with strong bipartisan support to authorize grants and establish other programs to improve stillbirth data collection.
  • The Social Determinants of Health Care Data Analysis Act (HR4026), proposed by Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas
  • The Suicide Prevention Lifeline Improvement Act (HR. 2981), proposed by Rep. John Katko of New York. It passed the House in May.
  • The Drug-Free Communities Pandemic Relief (HR654), moved by Rep. David Joyce of Ohio to allow the Drug-Free Communities Support Program to waive matching fund requirements for certain grants to reduce substance use in young people.

I and many other suburban women are now closely watching the progress of Cures 2.0 (HR6000) legislation introduced last fall by Republican Fred Upton of Michigan and Democrat Diana DeGette of Colorado with 74 co-sponsors. They have worked tirelessly on this legislation over the past two years, building consensus with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and with a number of leading health care organizations.

They invented this second iteration of Cures 2.0 because it builds on the success of their 21st Century Cures Act, which was introduced in 2015 and passed in December 2016. Cures 2.0 will provide the best scientific minds in our country with the resources they need to find cures for some of the world’s cruellest diseases while ensuring that more people can benefit from these discoveries by expanding health care coverage for Medicare, Medicaid and Medicare recipients. health insurance for children.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine speaks, from left, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Sen. Jon Tester, D- Mont., Sen., Joe Manchin, DW.Va., and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., look on, Thursday, June 24, 2021, at the White House in Washington.  President Joe Biden invited members of the group of 21 Republican and Democratic senators to discuss the infrastructure plan.  (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Cures 2.0 would also create a whole new agency – the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health – housed within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and tasked with finding new cures and treatments for diseases like diabetes, ALS and many more. ‘others. Basically, ARPA-H is modeled after the Department of Defense initiative called DARPA of the 1950s and will focus on breakthrough therapies with “out-of-the-box” advances that might otherwise get trapped in the bureaucracy. Virtually the entire “rare disease” community strongly supports this initiative, which enjoys broad bipartisan support. »

Other provisions include increased access to telehealth; training for home health aides; the diversification of clinical trials to ensure that any new drug is safe and effective for a larger and more representative part of the population; conduct a national study on the long-term effects of COVID; and developing a national vaccine testing and distribution strategy for future pandemics.

The original 21st century cures bill works because Upton and DeGette approached it in a bipartisan way, working together to craft the language and pass a meaningful bill that would help Americans on Main Street.

Republicans and Democrats can work together to pass important health care legislation. They did so with the Accelerating Access to Critical Therapies for ALS Act (HR3537), which became law Dec. 23 with 145 Republican co-sponsors.

There are other bills before Congress that have been crafted in a similar bipartisan fashion with a cross section of Republican and Democratic cosponsors. In the House, these include Republican Rep. Nancy Mace’s PAAW (HR6186) and Dr. Lorna Breen’s Health Care Provider Protection Act (HR1667), sponsored by Rep. Susan Wild with 166 co-sponsors.

Health is an issue that can be discussed across partisan lines, especially in the Senate. Let’s vote on some of these bills and pass them.

Sarah Chamberlain is President and CEO of the Republican Main Street Partnership, which promotes bipartisan consensus building on public policy issues.

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