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Healthcare Reform: Why Can’t Democrats and Republicans Agree?

We all know that Republicans and Democrats have some very different core ideals which makes it difficult for them to agree on many topics- and healthcare is no exception. While Democrats want the federal government to administer and regulate healthcare, Republicans insist on private industry providing healthcare with as little interference from the government as possible.

In 2010, Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act with almost no Republican support. Since then, most right-wingers have been determined to overthrow the policy while Democrats insist that it’s the country’s best shot at a successful healthcare system. In the Senate today, Republican leaders are working to pass the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA) without any support from Democrats.

Of course, some more moderate individuals are often willing to come to a compromise on issues that strong right and left-wingers would otherwise never see eye to eye on. However, in general there are various core ideological reasons that Republican and Democratic leaders refuse to give up their positions on political issues, including healthcare reform. Many American citizens and leaders view being Republican or Democrat as a part of their identity. While this loyalty can have its advantages, blind loyalty can cause unnecessary conflict and an unwillingness to compromise. In order to get a better understanding of some of the topics at hand, let’s take a look at some of the major differences in opinions on healthcare between the U.S.’s 2 main parties.

Democratic Point of View

Since the Affordable Care Act became law, over 20 million Americans gained health insurance they hadn’t had before and the number of those not covered by insurance has been cut in half. With the passage of Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through the 1900’s, Democrats have stood by their belief that health insurance is a fundamental right of every American. They believe that government regulation and administration of healthcare is the safest way to ensure that quality insurance will be fairly distributed amongst the American people.

Though government regulation of healthcare is a basic belief of the Democratic party, some more extreme leftists believe that a single payer health program should be imposed which cuts out insurance companies and uses the country’s savings to pay for insurance for everyone. While this may sound ideal, it would be nearly impossible to make a reality in America.

Republican Point of View

In contrast, Republicans believe that the government should keep their hands off of health insurance and leave it to private industry. Many right-wingers view the Affordable Care Act as a violation of independence as its individual mandate causes increased taxation in order to cover subsidies. For this reason, many capitalists want to move away from Obamacare in order to preserve personal responsibility and and freedom from government regulation.

A Republican Senator of Kentucky, Rand Paul, has made it clear that he wants the Affordable Care Act to be repealed and has said that he will not support any new policy unless it gets rid of Obamacare altogether. He has also stated that he will not support the Better Care Reconciliation Act proposed by Republican leaders in June.

Healthcare is not only a political debate, but a social one as well. Abortion and contraception make up a piece of the healthcare puzzle. Republicans refuse to use taxpayer money to pay for these things while Democratic leaders believe that they are a basic, essential part of healthcare. Since some people believe that abortion and even contraception are morally wrong while others believe that women should have access to all options, it’s unlikely that a compromise will be reached on this issue anytime soon.

Some Republicans, mostly those with more moderate views, would like to keep Medicaid as it is. Medicaid is the country’s health insurance program for low income children and adults and those with disabilities. Without Medicaid, millions of Americans would be without health insurance. This is why many moderate republicans refuse to back the Better Care Reconciliation act as it plans to cut nearly $700 billion from the Medicaid budget.

What’s Wrong with the Affordable Care Act?

President Obama passed the Affordable Care Act (informally known as Obamacare) as an attempt to provide every American with affordable, quality healthcare coverage. The Senate passed the Affordable Care Act with 68 Democrats and 2 Independents voting in favor and 39 Republicans voting against. Although the overall goal of the act: providing affordable coverage for all, is an excellent goal, critics of the policy feel that Obamacare hasn’t reached its full potential. Some challenges faced by the act include:

  • Since millions of Americans received healthcare coverage for the first time, costs of insurance for others increased dramatically. Many Americans noticed a tax increase as the Affordable Care Act relies on taxes to fund coverage for lower income families.
  • The cost of premiums has increased as insurance companies raise their rates to afford coverage for all previously uninsured Americans.
  • Many insurance companies have chosen to leave the marketplace due to increased costs, leaving consumers with less choices.
  • In order to motivate Americans to acquire health insurance, the Affordable Care Act imposed a fine on uninsured individuals. This led to many Americans being surprised by an additional fee during tax season.
  • Some say the fine imposed on the uninsured wasn’t high enough to motivate young people to sign up for insurance. In order to succeed, the act will need more young, healthy, taxpaying people to balance out the cost of the less healthy, lower income individuals being supported by the taxes.
  • Many Americans simply don’t understand the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare uses a tiered system to differentiate between plans that offer different copays, coverage levels, deductibles and premiums. Especially the millions of Americans who have never had health insurance before, this system can be confusing and unapproachable.

Without a reform that addresses these issues, improvement will be complicated.

With each new leader and shift in power between the parties, healthcare is likely to change. It seems so recent that our country was undergoing a healthcare makeover with Obamacare, and now it may be happening again. Without the ability to compromise and negotiate reasonably, it will be impossible to create a plan that all Americans are satisfied with. Our hope is that leaders will be willing to meet in the middle and keep in mind what would truly be best for the American people.

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