In our opinion: Real health care reform will require hard work, study and bipartisanship

Jacquelyn Martin, AP

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 11.

When Sen. John McCain gave an impassioned speech last week about the need for the Senate to return to bipartisanship and the regular order of committee hearings and amendments, some pundits called him out as a hypocrite. They noted he subsequently voted to allow debate on a Republican health reform bill that had been rammed through to a floor vote without any of those things.

Now we understand better what the Arizona Republican was doing.

McCain, together with Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, was key to defeating what some were calling a “skinny reform” of Obamacare last Thursday, casting the third Republican “no” vote that doomed it.

Then he said he hoped members of Congress would start over and do things the right way. Send the bill to a committee, allow debate, vote on amendments and try to broker a deal both Republicans and Democrats could support.

It’s hard not to applaud that kind of principled stand.

Republicans have been flailing in recent weeks, appearing desperate to pass something, anything, that would change Obamacare without much thought to what the nation’s health care system really needs.

They can do better than that.

Obamacare was a flawed attempt at helping the uninsured obtain insurance. Its shortcomings have led to increased premiums, an exodus of large providers and uncertainty among private businesses, some of which have chosen to hire more part-time workers rather than face the law’s requirements.

The root of the nation’s health care problem wasn’t so much a lack of insurance coverage as it was the runaway cost of medical care. Those costs have continued to rise unabated.

“From the beginning,” McCain said, “I have believed that Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with a solution that increases competition, lowers costs, and improves care for the American people.” That is exactly the right approach, and it should have been…

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