CLEVELAND — The Republican National Convention here kicked off calmly Monday, but then descended into chaos, if only temporarily.
Business began as usual with the Pledge of Allegiance and the other standard opening procedures. Delegates even danced to the music, some wearing cowboy hats as many two-stepped in the aisles to the tune of “Happy Together,” “Come Join the Party,” and “How Sweet it is to be Loved by You.”
Despite that amicable beginning, things got rowdy inside the Quicken Loans Arena when the chair of the Republican National Committee’s rules committee moved that the convention rules be adopted.
A voice vote was taken but because both sides were shouting very loudly it was unclear whether the Aye or Nay votes had prevailed. A lot of chanting followed, including voices saying “USA!” and others yelling “We want Trump!”
The convention chair then asked for another voice vote. He declared that the rules committee report had been adopted. A delegate from Utah requested a voice vote but his request was denied, with the chair saying there was not enough support for one. The convention business resumed shortly thereafter, although shouts of “Roll call vote!” erupted periodically.
That dissension was emblematic of disagreements about Donald Trump, the party’s presumed nominee, that were going on behind the scenes, even though Paul Manafort, Trump’s acting campaign manager, had presented unity as one of the convention’s core themes during a press briefing Monday morning.
As one example of some prominent party members’ dissatisfaction with Trump, John Kasich, Ohio’s own Republican governor, will not be speaking at the convention and has thus far failed to endorse the candidate.
“He’s embarrassing his party,” Manafort said of Kasich at a media breakfast.
The theme for the opening day was “Make America Safe Again,” with a focus on national security, but a few speakers did make comments about healthcare issues.
Rep. Greg Walden (R- Ore.) slammed the Affordable Care Act (ACA). “Under this flawed law, healthcare has become anything but affordable,” he said. “Insurance premiums and healthcare costs, they’ve skyrocketed. Another round of double-digit rate hikes are set to hit consumers this November. Obamacare is what happens when a president cares more about securing a political win than setting good policy for our country.”
Walden drew comparisons between Obamacare and the “patient-centered” replacement plan touted by House Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.). “We’re offering a real alternative and showing voters that Republicans are the party of new and good ideas, while Democrats are clearly the party of the failed status quo, especially on healthcare … Donald Trump will be our partner in this effort and together we will replace Obamacare with healthcare that works for all Americans.”
The orthopedic surgeon who chairs the party’s platform committee,Sen. John Barrasso, MD, (R-Wyo.), also criticized the ACA.”The president … dismantled the American system of healthcare and replaced it with a costly, complicated scheme that takes away our freedom,” he said.
Outside the “Q” second tier activities included a forum on the future of health information technology, sponsored by the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).
Martin Harris, MD, chief information officer at the Cleveland Clinic, discussed his facility’s use of a patient portal that gives patients most test results at the same time as their physicians receive them.
“It creates a continuous relationship with physician that’s sustainable over time,” he said of the portal, which patients can access on their smartphones. “Now patients have access to exact same information that their provider has.” Certain test results, such as pathology results for suspected cancers, are delayed before being posted in the patient portal until the physician has time to discuss them with the patient, he added.
Warren Selman, MD, neurosurgeon-in-chief at University Hospitals of Cleveland, discussed the benefits of using a 3-D virtual reality system to analyze neurosurgery patients. One advantage is that it makes consultation with far-away colleagues easier.
“It’s not enough for me to make a decision by myself [in some cases] … Wouldn’t it be great to get a couple of colleagues on the same surgical theater and say, ‘Would you take a look at this? Take a look in 3D and tell me what you think,” he said. “Virtual reality has a very strong place in improving healthcare.”
In addition, Selman said, being able to see, for example, what their own brain aneurysm looks like and how the neurosurgeon is planning to approach the surgery “gives patients a greater sense of trust.”