One of the main reasons tea party Republicans, some insurers and even establishment leaders of the GOP fought so hard against President Obama’s historic health care reform, the Affordable Care Act, was the fear that once established, the public would like the ACA and millions would benefit from it. It would thus be harder to reverse and Obama’s popularity would grow.
That’s what happened, but rather than accept the ACA and recognize that more than 20 million Americans have coverage thanks to it — and it didn’t blow up the deficit or ruin the private health insurance industry, by the way — Republicans have moved forward with their own plan. It is a pathetic, hard-partisan, clumsy, inefficient and unfair “replacement” for what GOP members call “Obamacare.”
Ironically, GOP members in Congress have moved ahead despite polls showing the ACA is now popular, something that became ever more evident to those members of Congress who held town hall meetings on a recent recess. The smartest political move Republicans could make would be to vow to improve and refine and expand the ACA. Instead, they’re going to kill it and the replacement ideas are not good.
Among the aspects of the GOP plan: tax credits to help with ACA premiums but amounting to only a fraction of subsidies provided for lower-income levels under the ACA; no more mandate forcing people to buy insurance or pay a penalty, which is crucial to enrolling enough young, healthy people in insurance to compensate for the elderly, who need more care; cuts to federal money for local public health programs; no federal funding for Planned Parenthood —which provides some abortion services — and a phase-out of new funding for people who got covered under Medicaid expansion.
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And surprise, surprise: cutbacks in the ACA will allow the GOP to push ahead with tax cuts for the wealthy and business, because those taxes helped fund subsidies for people enrolled in insurance under the ACA.
Republicans had to bow to one supremely popular part of the ACA, which was to protect people with pre-existing conditions. But companies will be able to charge the elderly more under the changes.
Interesting here is that the GOP plan isn’t even close to President Trump’s promises that he’d come up with something better and cheaper and more accessible than “Obamacare.”
Will President Trump stand up to Republicans and demand they help him keep his promises, or will he bow to GOP leaders who apparently could care less?
The success, or failure, of his presidency may be in the balance.