ECLECTIC RANT: Failed GOP health care legislation

Ralph E. Stone
Friday March 31, 2017 - 03:39:00 PM

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) or ObamaCare, was signed into law on March 23, 2010. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 20 million people are newly insured as a result of the ACA. 

Since passage of the ACA, it is estimated that the Republicans have unsuccessfully tried to repeal all or part of the ACA at least 60 times.  

This month, the House announced the American Health Care Act (AHCA) or TrumpCare, authored by Paul Ryan, as a proposed repeal and replacement of the ACA. Despite intense lobbying by Trump, others in his administration, and by Ryan himself, the legislation was pulled because there was not enough votes for passage. As Trump and Ryan now know, health care is more complicated than they thought.  

According to the Congressional Budget Office, if the AHCA had passed, 14 million more people would have become uninsured next year and by the year 2026, a total of 24 million more Americans would be uninsured than they would be under the ACA. 

The ACHA is diametrically at odds with Trump's pledge on the campaign trail when he promised to cover everyone, avoid Medicaid cuts, and boost funding for opioid abuse. Then he vigorously lobbied the reluctant House Republicans to pass a bill that has none of these things. Instead, if the ACHA had passed, millions would have lost insurance and Medicaid spending would have been sacrificed and replaced by tax cuts for the rich. In short Trump's promises on health care were worth about as much as a bucket of warm spit. 

What's next? Trump and Ryan acknowledge that the ACA continues to be the law of the land. However, Trump was quoted as saying, "ObamaCare, unfortunately, will explode." It is true that the ACA needs tweaking as insurance premiums are skyrocketing in some states and insurance companies are backing out of the ACA health exchanges. 

(Health exchanges, by the way, are organizations set up to facilitate the purchase of health insurance in each state. Marketplaces provide a set of government-regulated and standardized health care plans from which individuals may purchase health insurance policies eligible for federal subsidies.) 

Trump and the Republicans in Congress can either work with the Democrats to fix the admitted problems with the ACA or seek to undermine it. I hope for the former, but expect the latter.