President Trump is at it again. Two years after promising Americans “something terrific” to replace Obamacare – and failing – the administration has renewed calls for its repeal. On Monday, the Department of Justice announced its full support of a federal judge’s decision that would eradicate the entire Affordable Care Act. (The decision is not in force and the case is under appeal). Then, on Tuesday, the president rewarmed his pre-repeal claims that the GOP should be “the party of health care” – catching Republican lawmakers off guard.
“If Trump had told GOP senators of his plans, they say they would have sought to convince him not to throw their party back into a war over health care — the issue Democrats believe was instrumental to their takeover of the House in last year’s midterms.” – The Hill, 3/27/19
Didn’t the White House learn its lesson in 2017 when Republicans tried to ram several ACA repeal bills through Congress, only to fail miserably? The GOP found itself bereft of ideas for actually replacing Obamacare with “something terrific” once they gained control of the White House – after voting more than 60 times to repeal the ACA during the Obama presidency.
Since we haven’t written as much about Obamacare since the GOP repeal effort went down in flames in 2017, let’s recall what’s at stake:
“The ACA touches every part of the health care system — from how Medicare pays doctors to the Medicaid expansion that has covered millions of low income people.” – National Public Radio, 3/26/19.
For older Americans, the Affordable Care Act mitigated the age rating system that allowed insurers to charge them five times as much as younger people. It extended the financial solvency of Medicare and provided for annual wellness visits at no cost to the patient. Obamacare expanded the Medicaid program so that more Americans – including ‘near seniors’ aged 50-64 – were covered.
After the Republicans’ ‘repeal and replace’ efforts failed, the Trump administration committed itself to undermining the Affordable Care Act in myriad other ways, including withholding subsidies, purposely under-promoting the annual open enrollment period, and campaigning for the Trump/GOP tax scheme, which zeroed out the penalty for not obtaining coverage. It was that last act of sabotage upon which the federal judge in Texas ruled that the entire law should be overturned.
United against President Trump’s efforts to destroy the Affordable Care Act, Congressional Democrats have pledged to strengthen it through new legislation. Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled a bill on Tuesday to “lower health insurance premiums, strengthen protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions, and ban the sale of what Democrats call junk insurance,” reports the New York Times.
But with the GOP in control of the Senate and Obamacare’s most virulent opponent sitting in the White House, the Affordable Care Act that helps so many millions of America obtain health coverage will remain under constant threat.