The Stale Obamacare Repeal Promise

By: Jeffrey Albertson, Jr./ 24 July 2017

For nearly seven years now, Congressional Republicans—whether seeking office at the time or incumbent—have run on the platform of “repeal and replacing” the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare. The issue has, nonetheless, singularly led the GOP to gain majorities in the House and Senate and in 2016, the White House. With unified Republican control of the legislative and executive branches, 2017 seemed to be the best opportunity to fulfill that seven year promise, especially given a President who would hardly hesitate to sign legislation. However, that promise has gone unfulfilled after several incidents of Congressional failure following Republican ideological in-fighting between Moderates and Conservatives. While the GOP controls Congress, the party is far from a united.

Given the recent dismal Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scoring and the favorable polling of the ACA, there’s no mandate to “repeal and replace” the law now. Perhaps, that’s because the GOP have proposed no significant replacement plan. Without that mechanism, no “replacement” is possible. A so-called “clean repeal” would, by 2020, would increase the number of uninsured by 27 million and drive premiums up by at least 25%. The other plan called the “Better Care Reconciliation Act,” would comparatively by 2020, leave 19 million more uninsured with a 20% increase in premiums.

Instead of the perpetual bloodlust to repeal the namesake health law of it’s predecessor, the Trump Administration and Republicans should focus on repairing where the law lacks—that would bring Democrats to the table. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) recently stated that if repeal of Obamacare is taken off the agenda, then the Democratic Party would work with the Republicans.

The most recent GOP plan by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to repeal the ACA and by two-years find a replacement is a fallacy. The GOP has had seven years to find a replacement, but doubtless would find a solution in two years. That solution would be buying on credit, but the President and Republicans are over their limit.

When reforming a plan that is one-seventh of the economy, all the interested parties must be involved, including Democrats, Governors, and interested industries. Although the Democratic Party may have “rammed through” the ACA, the GOP and Trump have an actual opportunity to make the program better, actually lowering the cost of healthcare and not pursuing the notion that reducing Medicaid funding and subsidies somehow makes care more accessible.

Instead of “repeal and replace,” the GOP should adopt a “Yes, it was broken, but look we fixed it” approach. The fundamental flaw in the Republican Obamacare replacement plan is the belief that government should have a minimalist role in healthcare, instead it should adopt that government intervention is necessary to guarantee a baseline of care, for all Americans—regardless of ability to pay.

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