Sadly, the health care debate is but one battle in what seems to be an endless partisan war, and the battlefields are every issue of importance facing our nation -- from the economy to foreign policy. How did things get so off track?
It wasn't always this way. When I was chairman
of the House Budget Committee in the 1990s, we were able to reform Pentagon spending
, pass welfare reform
and balance the federal budget
for the first time in decades and largely because Democrats and Republicans made a commitment to work together. We disagreed and debated, but at the end of the day we agreed to meaningful reforms that strengthened our country. That change was possible only with bipartisan support.
In more recent times, as governor of Ohio, I've seen the same kind of across-the-aisle approach lead to positive progress in addressing some of our state's most perplexing problems: police-community relations
, human trafficking
, infant mortality, underperforming schools, highway infrastructure
, skyrocketing college tuition and so many others.
And yes, unlike Washington, we've even made progress with health care reform, within the framework we're given by federal law. One of my first steps
as governor was to reform Medicaid and rein in costs. Working with both sides of the aisle in our state legislature, we have been able to bend the cost curve of Medicaid from more than 9% annual growth to below 3%.
Today, we're providing better care, Ohio's Medicaid program is stable, per-member spending is flat over six years, and we've been able to extend health care coverage to more than 700,000 low-income adults
Health care is not a Republican or Democrat problem. And there isn't a strictly one-sided, partisan solution. We've shown in Ohio that tough problems can be resolved if people work together. That approach can and should be a model for Washington.
To resolve the current health care stalemate, Senate Republicans should reach out across the aisle, and their Democrat colleagues should accept the opportunity to achieve a lasting solution to these issues. If both sides choose to work together, we can fix America's health care system in a way that preserves coverage, stabilizes the market, reforms Medicaid and controls costs. Let Ohio and other states show the way.
On health care reform and a myriad of other issues facing our nation, it's time for Republicans and Democrats to come together, end the civil war in Washington and fight for all Americans.
Progress on health care can set a pattern for bipartisan cooperation on all the other problems that Americans so desperately want Washington to get off their partisan backsides and resolve.