House vote meaningless, but Pace’s position is not

We agree with Sal Pace, the Democratic candidate for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, that Wednesday’s vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal the Affordable Care Act, was basically a meaningless political gesture.

House Republicans know that the repeal is dead on arrival in the Democrat-controlled Senate, and it would be vetoed quickly by President Barack Obama if it somehow made it out of the Senate.

The GOP hopes to use the vote during this year’s congressional campaigns to pummel incumbent Democrats who voted against the repeal, as well as Democrats challenging sitting Republicans, as Pace is doing with incumbent 3rd District Rep. Scott Tipton.

Despite all that, however, Tipton also has a valid point: Voters in the 3rd Congressional District deserve a clear statement from Pace on exactly what he will do regarding the Affordable Care Act — better known as Obamacare — if he is elected.

Pace’s statement that he would work for improvements to the existing law to make it more affordable and accessible is inadequate. And his campaign website has almost nothing about the issue of health care. He needs to be more specific about what areas of the law need to be changed, and how.

Tipton, for his part, has voted for repeal of Obamacare several times. And he has said in public and on his website that he supports Republican proposals to strengthen market-driven approaches for health insurance. He also wants to preserve Medicare for those now on the system and others close to retirement, and he hopes to promote more individual choice in health care decisions. However, like Pace, he needs to provide more specifics.

In purely pragmatic terms, Pace’s approach of seeking changes to the existing law makes the most sense. That’s because, even if Republicans win the White House and control of the Senate, they are unlikely to have the filibuster-proof majority needed to repeal Obamacare.

Additionally, while a definite majority of Americans say they are opposed to Obamacare, especially the individual mandate, many support some of its provisions, including requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions and allowing portability of coverage from job to job.

Given those realities, changing provisions of the law that are most egregious — where bipartisan support can be achieved — is a reasonable approach.

Alternatively, as former Sen. Tom Daschle noted this week, even without repealing Obamacare, Republicans could eliminate funding for much of it through the congressional budget process.

In any event, both Tipton and Pace should be prepared to tell voters in specific terms what they want this nation’s health care system to look like — whether Obamacare is repealed or not — and how they propose to achieve their vision.


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