The awful legislation was defeated, at least for the moment. What happened is an example of the marvelous power a small number of people have when they organize and represent majority public opinion.
The time for the offensive in trying to step closer to a universal single-payer system is now. It doesn’t have to be all at once, as expanding Medicare coverage to a couple million more people would be a good starting point. The point is to have real progress begin while the positive pressure is still there.
The last-ditch effort by Senate Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act was defeated in the early hours of Friday morning, dealing a “humiliating” blow to President Donald Trump and the GOP and sparking jubilant celebration among those who have marched, called their representatives, and risked arrest for months to ensure Trumpcare’s demise.
“You killed Trumpcare, at least for tonight,” declared Indivisible following the vote. “This is your victory. Celebrate it.”
In the end, Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and John McCain (R-Ariz.) defected from their party to vote down the so-called “skinny repeal” effort, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would leave 16 million more Americans uninsured.
As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) delivered a dejected speech announcing the death of the repeal effort he spearheaded, demonstrators outside the Capitol building expressed excitement and relief that, at least for now, the GOP’s efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, defund Planned Parenthood, and gut Medicaid have fallen short.
“If millions of Americans had not raised their voices at town hall meetings, made phone calls to their senators, posted on social media, and resisted in other ways, this bill might already be law,” Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org, said in a statement.
But, Galland emphasized, the threat has not been entirely eliminated.
“Republicans in Congress will not give up,” she concluded. “Neither can we.”
This sentiment was echoed on social media and in speeches at the Capitol in response to Trumpcare’s defeat; many concluded that the struggle will continue until healthcare is guaranteed to all Americans as a right.
“To the thousands of citizen leaders who gave their all to this struggle: This is your victory. Thank you,” Our Revolution said on Friday. “We fight on for Medicare for All.”
In a statement following the Senate’s vote, Murshed Zaheed, the political director of CREDO, argued that “the failure of Trumpcare provides the perfect opportunity for Democrats to go on offense by fighting for Medicare for All.”
“Medicare already covers 40 million Americans over the age of 65, providing quality care at prices that are much lower than the private market,” he added. “It is time to take decisive steps toward a national healthcare system that puts people over profits.”
As Common Dreams has reported, grassroots support for federally funded universal healthcare has peaked during the Trumpcare fight, and organizations throughout the country are mobilizing to pressure lawmakers into siding with popular sentiment.
“Tonight is just a start,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a speech outside the Capitol. “We’ve got a long way to go. And our goal must be to join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee healthcare to every man, woman, and child in this country.”