My greatest victory on a high school football field was just getting into a game.  I never started a single game until late in my senior season.  As memories fade and fall away it always seems the thrill of victories and the agony of defeats remains indelibly standing.  I will never forget winning a playoff game in the New Orleans Superdome, it felt like … like the Democrats feel now that the American Health Care Act never even made it to a vote.  They may, for now, have the champagne-spraying ride home from Washington.

And then there were the long bus rides home, everyone in a silent state of shock after losing the big game.  Republicans know this feeling and soon they will have their own long ride home to their districts.

Their minds will churn, replaying and dissecting the would haves, should haves and what might have beens.  For it is in this valley of the shadow of defeat that great teams are either formed or forgotten.  The beat down either becomes a catalyst for determination or for dissension.  So, Republicans here is my game plan to recover from your loss.

Like the stages of grief great teams are able to bounce back through these steps:

  1. Reflect: Shock and silence
  2. Reexamine: Review the film  
  3. Remove: Active Amnesia  
  4. Retool: Make adjustments  
  5. Refocus: Execute new game plan

Shock and Silence

You are understandably in the first stage. Paul Ryan said he was not going to sugar coat it, “it was a major setback”. I would say calling it a major setback IS sugar coating it.  You-Tube the two kicks of Chris Boswell.  Watch his perfectly executed on-sides kick when he played for Rice.  That was the Democrats passing the ACA with the House, the Senate, and the Presidency.  Now, watch him try the same kick in the NFL with the Steelers.  That was the Republicans with the House, the Senate, and the Presidency.  Enough said.

Republicans, take your break to suffer in silence, that includes tweeting!  You deserve it.  Then get ready to comeback and execute like that first kick.  When you are done with the pity party, get to work.

Review the Film

Come together and review the film from your loss.  Get everyone in the room and rehash all the mistakes and errors.  Understand what went wrong and why.   Listen and learn from everyone especially those you disagree with.  This is not to blame as there will be plenty of that to go around but to learn and lead.  Bring Red and Blue jerseys into the equation, the Freedom and the Moderates, those with their own bills and those that just prefer to make cable news sound bites.  

In health care the new rage is “shadowing”.  CEO’s of hospitals walk around with doctors and nurses and patients in real-time.  There is no truer teacher than the truth, unfiltered and unscripted.  I ask you all to go shadow health care in your district.  Go see a struggling adult on Medicaid working 2 jobs.  Or a a burned out doctor and an overwhelmed nurse.  Look at a hospital CEO trying to stay out of the red and the uninsured family with a huge hospital bill crushing their future.  This will put you in the correct frame of mind to do the right thing.  You see football is a game; health care is their life.  

Active Amnesia

Now, are you ready?  Delete the loss from your memory; yes act like it never happened.

Forgetting that last dropped pass or loss or even victory is the only path forward for champions.  It sounds simple but it can be the hardest part.  You see we like to beat ourselves and others up after failure.  That is why it is called, active amnesia, you will really have to put it out of your mind.  Have you ever seen a football player who can’t forget that fumble, and gets back in the game only to fumble again?  Don’t make that mistake.

Make Adjustments

Take what you learned from the film and make adjustments.  The art of the NFL is not so much the original Game Plan but the adjustments made during the game.

I interviewed former NFL executive and coach Pat Kirwan for my book and he said that football is simple; a win is on the scoreboard.  Healthcare is so complex you have to define what a win is.  So, I will help point you in the right direction.  Whatever you do you have to address these pressing problems with the ACA:

  1. Premiums on the ACA exchanges are too high increasing on average 25% for 2017 according to HHS.  
  2. Out of pocket spending is out of control.  I call these OOPs! Because most patients are surprised when they get bills for things they thought we covered by insurance.  As your leaders have stated having too much OOPs is like having no insurance at all.
  3. Major health insurers are dropping out leaving most patients with few, one or no options on the exchanges.  If competition is the answer to problem one you cannot afford fewer insurers on the exchanges.
  4. In the 18 states that didn’t expand Medicaid the poorest of the poor able-bodied adults for the most part are left without Medicaid or subsidies.  Like Kris Kristofferson said, “freedoms just another word for nothing left to lose, and nothing is nothing but it’s free” This group is getting a huge dose of the freedom of nothing.


Health care will never truly be reformed without a bipartisan solution.  If either side sabotages or sandbags the ACA or any future bill you will both will be blamed.  We are tired of finger pointing and blame.  It is time for the reform-resist cycle to end, you know this one:

Blue:  Reform
Red:   Resist

Red:   Reform
Blue:  Resist

Ask yourself, am I a reformer or resistor?  If you are not sure, take this quiz:

True or False

I would not vote for a perfect health care plan that keeps much of the ACA if it involves repeal.

If you answer true, you are fighting for a legacy.  Even President Obama said he would be happy to change the law if it was improved.  You are a resistor.  

True or False

I would not vote for a perfect health care bill even if it was nothing like Obamacare if it did not involve repeal.

You are simply trying to check the box of taking down a legacy.  You are a resistor.   

President Obama will forever be credited with starting the necessary process of reform, legacy cemented.  Now, build your legacies by improving it with or without repeal.  TEAM America will continue to lose until you break this cycle.