Heroes Who Defended Health Care: Citizen Activists along with Collins, Murkowski and McCain

you can read all my blog posts at http://www.generationsofnewyork.com

There was a public debate a few years ago about who was more responsible for the civil rights legislation enacted in the 1960s.  Some said it would not have happened without President Lyndon B. Johnson’s legislative skills and presidential advocacy.  Others noted that the marches, sit-ins, freedom rides and people in the streets led by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and others demanded the legislation and it was their nonviolent, direct action that made it possible for the laws that were passed.

Obviously, it took both protest marches as well as key Presidential leadership to pass those laws.  My view is that the massive marches made the difference because no legislators or Presidents including Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman had succeeded much in ending the Jim Crow segregation.

Much credit was given last week to Senator John McCain for his dramatic action to provide the decisive vote to defeat the “skinny” repeal of the Affordable Care Act.   Obviously, he followed his conscience and said his vote was “the right thing to do.”  Two other Republican Senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine had stood steadfast against any bills that would take away health care from large numbers of people.  Susan Collins is Chair of the Aging Committee and has a special concern regarding health care and older persons.

I admire Susan Collins and I have for over forty years because she was my college classmate at St. Lawrence University in the 1970s.  We were both government majors.  Back then, she was the model student who was smart and won academic awards at graduation.   She was well liked by students and faculty.She was a very nice person who was even tempered like she has been in the US Senate.    She displayed her rational approach in her advocacy on the health legislation.

While these Senators made a decisive difference, I have commented before on the importance of the many patient, consumer, health, senior and disability advocates and their organizations who rallied and lobbied to preserve the Affordable Care Act.  Their staunch opposition helped to frighten, educate, and shame many members of the Republican majority.  In the end, the repeal almost passed.  I have no doubt that if they had done so, that our army of activists would rally and battle again until health care coverage for all Americans was restored.

Michael Burgess

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I have been a senior advocate for most of my career. I was Executive Director of the New York StateWide Senior Action Council and the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans. In 2007-2010 I was the Director of the New York State Office for the Aging

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