179 days into his Presidency, Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – colloquially named Obamacare – seems to be ever fading. With the news on Wednesday morning that two Republican senators, Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas, publicly stated they would oppose the Senate Republican bill to repeal the ACA, further shockwaves rippled through a crisis-riddled Trump White House as the relative inability to drive through legislative policy becomes more and more of a sticking point for the new President.
The loss of the votes of Senators Lee and Moran puts the House Majority Leader – Mitch McConnell – at a distinct disadvantage as it leaves him and the Republican Party two votes short of a majority, that otherwise could have pushed through the Senate Republican bill to formally begin the process of repealing the historic Affordable Care Act, first signed into law by President Obama on 23rd March 2010.
The advent of Obamacare was undoubtably the biggest shakeup to the powerful healthcare and health insurance industry since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. So many Presidents had tried, and failed, to pass healthcare reform, but it was Obama – with the support of both the Senate and the House of Representatives – who managed to finally make more affordable healthcare a reality for millions of Americans across the country.
When the law was passed in 2010, it was designed to provide the 48 million lowest-paid Americans with the opportunity to sign up to cheaper healthcare insurance and, by April 2014, Obama boasted that the ACA had hit 6 million healthcare signups.
A slight caveat of the law is that it penalises Americans who do not signup to healthcare insurance – whether Obamacare or otherwise. The fine or ‘individual shared responsibility payment’ is charged for every month that you, your spouse or any dependents in your household do willingly not sign up for a healthcare insurance plan.
But now, with the repeal and replace strategy of the Republican Party in tatters, we move on to their ‘Plan D’ – repeal and replace later. Weakened by a shift in marketplace dynamics and by several big-label names in the industry pulling their coverage, Obamacare is by no means perfect, but repealing it without a framework for replacement is something that could have a real-life impact to the 12.2 million Americans who have signed up over the last 7 years.
With one of Trump’s main campaign promises being to repeal Obamacare, the road ahead is rocky, even with Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans short of a majority needed to pass the Obamacare repeal bill as it currently stands.
But as the 2018 mid-term elections creep up – in a brief 18 months time – will more Republicans come out of the woodwork in support of the continuation of Obamacare? Or will more merely throw caution to the wind and line up behind the views of their President, in order to drive through the repeal of arguably one of Obama’s most brilliant and beneficial achievements?
The fate of 12 million Americans – many of whom voted Trump into the White House back in November – hangs in the balance.
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