KENT -- A bipartisan approach may be the only viable avenue toward consensus on healthcare reform, as the crafting of the GOP's Senate bill is "even worse than how the Affordable Care Act evolved," says U.S. Congressman Dave Joyce (R, OH-14).

"The Republican version is just that -- a Republican version," said Joyce, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee. Joyce voted against the House version of the healthcare bill in May.

"The ACA is going to fail ... it's set up to fail," he said. "But the House bill was too partisan. Speaker [Paul] Ryan has some good policies, but I told him, 'Your policies are not good for my district.' There was nothing in the House bill, and there is nothing in this Senate bill, that is going to bring down the cost of healthcare."

Joyce, who maintains a satellite office in Twinsburg Government Center, talked healthcare reform, protection of the Great Lakes, military preparedness and Veterans Affairs during a July 5 visit to GateHouse Media's Kent office, meeting with several editors for about an hour.

All issues could benefit from improved political discourse, which has reached a "vitriolic" level nationwide, Joyce said.

"I do know there's a level of frustration out there," he said. "But we need to work together. [President Donald Trump] has gotten into this tug-of-war with the national media. Now we're six months into his presidency ... and infrastructure improvements, tax changes and healthcare law are not getting covered. They are dealing with the Tweet du Jour ... and [Trump's tweets] certainly don't help."

In further reference to the president's tweets, Joyce encouraged a more influential role for Vice President Mike Pence.

"I'd tell the president to put the phone down, go golfing and stay out of there. Let Pence run the show," Joyce said.

Throughout meetings on the House healthcare bill, Joyce said he suggested public hearings with [Cleveland Clinic president and CEO] Dr. Toby Cosgrove and other health professionals to help design a plan that reduced costs. But such hearings with experts never came to fruition, and much of the Senate version was then designed behind closed doors in GOP-only meetings.

"All we're doing is shifting premiums," Joyce said. "We need to set a course ... and find something that's good for all Americans."

See the July 9 edition of the Cuyahoga Falls News-Press for the complete story.