The second push in the Senate to repeal and replace Obamacare failed Monday when two Republican senators came out in opposition to the latest version. The Better Care Reconciliation Act just didn't cut it for Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas. But don't give them all the credit. There's a pretty fair argument that you — yes, you — might have helped kill the health care bill.
That's because Moran's decision not to support the bill likely came from pressure he received at home from his constituents. The senator came out against the previous version of the bill in late June, and Kansas newspapers noted the organized lobbying from constituents at home. That pressure continued to grow throughout the following weeks, with many citizens attending town halls over the Fourth of July recess to speak out against the GOP health care plan.
One constituent who spoke out by attending a town hall in Palco, Kansas, Politico reported, was Becky Burke, a woman who said she voted for Moran but was worried about Medicaid cuts:
So, @JerryMoran was a rare GOP senator who did town halls on BCRA during 7/4 recess. Hard not to wonder if that influenced his opposition.— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) July 18, 2017
Burke was one of about 150 people that attended Moran's first of three town halls, and voices like hers seems to have made the difference. "We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy," Moran said in a statement. He went on to criticize the BCRA and called for a bill that covers preexisting costs, expands access, and lowers costs. And, remember, this is coming from a Republican in Kansas.
The town halls, especially in a rural part of the state can be quite personal. Seventy-three-year-old Bob Cox is actually a former pediatrician for the Moran family. "I knew Sen. Moran’s daughters before I knew him," Cox said at the town hall. "We really support military to protect us from external threat, but we don’t really look at the internal threat from injury and disease and fund it the same way."
Friendly audience so far at Moran's town hall in Palco, KS (pop. about 200). Concerns about health care but no boo's, interruptions pic.twitter.com/vEVr1DZCPU— Ashley Killough (@KilloughCNN) July 6, 2017
Others even pushed the senator on a Medicare-for-all option — something that his statement seems to rule out ("our healthcare system will devolve into a single-payer system"). One winning argument for Moran, though, seems to be whether or not the bill would help rural Kansas hospitals stay open. "In western Kansas we have a lot of hospitals that cannot even afford to have a doctor on duty. Our doctors from Hays go out there like a day at a time," Eleanor McMindes, 86, said at the town hall.
Constituents confronting Sen. Moran at a town hall on health care led to big p. 1 stores in the big local Kansas papers pic.twitter.com/uO1Cp77jmT— Jeff Stein (@JStein_Vox) July 7, 2017
"There’s not a hospital I can find in Kansas that’s better off because of the ACA," Moran said at the town hall, but he told those gathered that he's in Washington to fight on behalf of rural Americans. "While I am a member of the Republican Party, ... I am member of the minority, and that minority is Kansas. That minority is rural."
If it weren't for these voices — voices like yours — there's a good chance that Moran wouldn't be in opposition to the bill and Trumpcare would potentially become the law of the land.