GOP leaders and Dems start bi-partisan talks on ACA repair. Will Trump help or hurt the process?

In this March 1, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump, flanked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., left, and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., speaks during a meeting with House and Senate leadership, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. For President Donald Trump and the Republican Party, it’s still complicated. That political reality has come into sharper focus in recent days as Republicans strain to pass high-stakes legislation revamping the nation’s health care law. While the president and the GOP are ostensibly on the same side _ each has promised to overhaul the current health care law, their tactics have at times been strikingly at odds. Photo: AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File.

Can President Trump show his leadership abilities and help craft a true bi-partisan ACA fix?

Very soon we will find out if President Donald Trump, is a leader or a sore loser hell bent on killing the Affordable Care Act by himself without the Congress or the Senate. There is no doubt that he is feeling the pain of a political defeat as the Senate failed to do away with the ACA after seven years of trying.

He is, however, someone who likes to try to pull off the “impossible deal.” If President Trump wants a legacy item he could get it by repairing something he has told the American people, is beyond repair.

But over the years we have found our greatest leaders have come from those who learn from their losses, more than those who have won. Can President Trump, lead a bipartisan effort to craft a health care repair to the ACA that is truly the “Best Health Care in The World,” something he promised on the campaign trail?

The process to find bi-partisan support for repairing the ACA has already begun. Early this morning Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Health Committee, has instructed his staff to begin to start the committee hearing process.

Before they left the Senate floor early this morning Alexander and his committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), were already talking about ways they can start on fixes to the health care system in committee.

Sen. Alexander said in a statement early Friday morning that it was urgent something be done to help the individual market.

“Tennessee’s state insurance commissioner says our individual insurance market is very near collapse,” Alexander said.

“Unless Congress acts, many of the 350,000 Tennesseans who buy health insurance in that market — songwriters, farmers, the self-employed — face the real prospect of having zero options to buy insurance in 2018 and 2019.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), told The Hill, “We need to find the areas of agreement, and it starts with: agree on the facts, lay out the reality, do the root cause analysis. To me, that is the problem-solving process.”

Meanwhile, over in the House of Representatives, The Problem Solvers caucus of 40 members of Congress, led by Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) and Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), is about evenly split between Republican and Democratic lawmakers. It usually meets weekly as a full group, but a health care working group has been meeting over the past month on health care, the lawmaker said, declining to elaborate on the discussions until after the senate had their chance at crafting a bill. But they are working on bipartisan plans that could be presented once the time comes.

At the moment Democrats are willing to talk major changes to the ACA, including dropping the idea of “single payer,” if the Republicans will stop the idea of repeal.

A bi-partisan group of governors has asked to be part of the conversation and they have plenty of ideas on how the ACA can be fixed. There are going to be plenty of input from all affected by the health care law ready to speak to committees in the Senate and the House, as soon as the hearings start.

The wildcard in this process remains President Trump, who at the moment does not seem to be willing to go for a bi-partisan plan. As Republicans and Democrats look to find a way to fix and improve the present health care system their biggest fear is how President Trump could single handily destroy any bi-partisan efforts.

According to a report this morning in POLITICO, President Trump, who regularly says Obamacare is dead, has already taken steps to undermine the law even as the legislative battle over repeal drags on. His administration has slashed crucial advertising dollars, cut the enrollment window in half, and regularly pumps out anti-Obamacare videos and graphics — actions sure to reduce the number of people who sign up.  

There are more ways the president can undercut any bi-partisan efforts and here is a more detailed list.

A recent Washington Post column pointed out that if President Trump and the Republicans failed to repeal the ACA they could actually benefit by some of the easy repairs.

The Post points out that a bipartisan approach to reforming our health-care system could end up giving Republicans some deregulatory measures in exchange for GOP help in shoring up the exchanges and a GOP acceptance of the ACA’s coverage expansion. Some Republican health wonks are now calling on their party to adopt a similar approach. But for this to happen, we would all have to proceed from shared agreement that this coverage expansion — one fostered by government — has actually helped enormous numbers of people, even if it isn’t in the manner that Republicans had hoped.

The moral of this story is there is the start of some honest bi-partisan work going on in Washington. No one knows how it will end, or if it will repair all of the issues with the ACA but at least the process is starting and that is a good thing.

We now need President Trump to become a real leader, prove that he can show both sides how a deal is done. The question remains is he truly a leader, a deal maker or a petty man who is willing to put the countries health care at risk just to kill the signature law of his predecessor?

Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.