Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness require healthcare

This week, as we celebrate the Fourth of July, we reflect on the origins of our great experiment in democracy and the principles that have guided us for more than two hundred years.

When Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, he included the words “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” calling them unalienable rights guaranteed to every American. Certainly, to have any of those things requires first having affordable, comprehensive healthcare.

Last week, when my Republican colleagues in the Senate released a draft healthcare bill that would cause 22 million Americans to lose their healthcare and cut $770 billion from Medicaid, they lost sight of those guiding principles. Taking away life-saving healthcare from the poorest Americans to provide a tax cut to the richest among us is not what our Founding Fathers had in mind all those years ago when they spoke of life, liberty and happiness.

My sincere hope is that over the holiday, my colleagues in Congress, Republican and Democrat alike, will take the time to meet with their constituents and discuss the real, devastating harm such a rollback of healthcare services would cause. When we return to Washington next week, I look forward to putting aside partisan politics and working together on improvements to our healthcare system that make it better, not worse. Together, we truly can improve access, bring down costs, care for the least of these, and ensure that more Americans, not fewer, can experience life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Have a happy, healthy Independence Day!