ALBUQUERQUE - It's easier for most people to learn trigonometry than it is to figure out how to provide health care for Americans.
That was the word from Donna Brazile at the opening address at the National Association of Health Underwriters annual convention on Sunday.
Brazile is vice chair of the Democratic National Committee and served as campaign manager for the 2000 Democratic candidate for president, Al Gore. She shared the stage in Albuquerque with Ana Navarro, conservative political commentator who appears frequently on CNN.
Although the two women are in opposite political camps, there was much they agreed on as they gave NAHU members their views on the current political scene, the upcoming presidential election and the state of health care reform.
The overriding themes of their back and forth were: the current political situation is weird, Washington is broken and the voters are fed up.
But what NAHU members really wanted to know is what will happen with health care reform, an issue that hits them right in the wallet.
Brazile looked at the House Republicans' most recent proposal to amend the Affordable Care Act. This proposal is part of House Speaker Paul Ryan's "Better Way" package of bills.
"The Republican plan has a lot of the elements of Obamacare in it," Brazile said. Those elements include continuing the ability of people with pre-existing conditions to obtain coverage. The proposal also calls for expanding access to health savings accounts and transforming Medicaid to a system of state block grants.
She predicted that if the Democrats come into power in Washington after the election, they would propose a health care system that would build on the ACA and increase access to publicly funded health care.
Navarro predicted that nothing will happen regarding health care reform in the current term. And what keeps the issue up in the air even more is that no one knows for sure what Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump plans to do about health care reform and we don't know what the makeup of the next Congress will be until after the November elections.
The Ryan proposal, Navarro said, is a positive plan. "The Republicans recognized that they just be against something, they have to come up with an alternative," she said.
Brazile was asked whether a single-payer health system will come into existence. She predicted that single-payer legislation would not pass the new Congress and a single-payer system is a long way off if it happens at all.
Both women agreed that the current political situation is unlike anything seen in this nation for a long time.
"What we are witnessing today in American politics is a political earthquake," Brazile said. "We've never had a woman leading a major party ticket before and we've never had anyone like Trump running for president."
The November election, she said, is not about ideology.
"This is about a voter revolution. The voters are looking for no-frills solutions," she said. "They are tired of both parties. They want plain-spoken candidates."
Even though she is a Republican, Navarro described her party as "the most dysfunctional family Thanksgiving dinner out there."
"We started out a year ago with some of the best horses in our stable - Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio," she said. "But there were so many flavors to choose from that they diluted each other's voice."
Most Republicans did not take Trump seriously when he first launched his presidential bid, Navarro said.
"Too many Republican candidates didn't recognize the changes in the party's base since 1999. Trump embodies the anti-Obama," she said. "Trump is the perfect storm - he has money, celebrity status and name recognition. Trump is media savvy and he was able to gauge the political base out there and he fed into the fears of Americans."
Navarro's warning about the upcoming presidential campaign: Do not underestimate Trump and do not overestimate Hillary Clinton. Trump has been able to get away with doing and saying things that would have sunk anyone else's presidential bid, she said.
As for Clinton, no one would have guessed that she would face a credible challenge in Bernie Sanders, whom Navarro described as "a 70-plus-year-old man, a socialist and a guy who hasn't combed his hair in 40 years."
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at [email protected]
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