As a candidate, Donald Trump vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act on “day one,” but as president he’s finding that fulfilling that promise won’t be as simple as a flick of his pen.
So far, he’s issued an executive order that lets federal agencies waive provisions of the ACA that would be a financial burden — on states, individuals, insurers. But that doesn’t repeal the ACA. Congress will have to dismantle it through law, and even Republican members can’t seem to figure out how they’re going to do that. And while some have no problem with kicking 20 million Americans off of health insurance, others realize that might have political consequences.
In the meantime, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is telling people that Trump’s order won’t affect ACA-connected policies sold for the current year. (The enrollment deadline is Jan. 31.) That’s good, and a rather enlightened view on the part of BCBS.
The truth is that while the ACA rollout was troubled, the ACA has provided insurance for millions, and provisions that allowed children to stay on parents’ policies until age 26 and prevented companies from turning people with preexisting conditions down for coverage are wildly popular. If the ACA rules were changed to tighten the requirements for younger, healthy people to get insurance, insurance companies could lower premiums and make the program even more appealing.
There’s no need to rush to abolish the ACA, at least outside the Republican caucus on Capitol Hill. Republicans would be smart to just say they’ll continue to work on an ACA repeal — and just not get around to it.