It’s no secret that Republicans have detested the Affordable Care Act since its passage back in 2010. It goes against their ideals for American healthcare- especially since it reduced privatization of the market and increased taxes for the general public. On July 25th, the Senate voted to open up discussions involving healthcare reform and the removal of the Affordable Care Act. The final vote ended up as a 50/50 tie, being broken only by Vice President Mike Pence voting in favor of the movement.
The same night, the Senate voted on the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) with a few additional amendments. One amendment would allow insurance companies to sell plans that didn’t work with Obamacare such as not covering pre-existing conditions. This amendment proposed by Senator Ted Cruz would be allowed as long as the insurance carrier also sold at least one plan which did cover pre-existing conditions. Another proposed amendment would add $100 million in funding to aid those who would lose Medicaid coverage if the Better Care Reconciliation Act were to pass. A third amendment proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would remove individual and employer mandates under BCRA. This vote failed to reach the required 60 favorable votes it needed to pass. 50 Democrats and 7 Republican members voted against this movement.
“Repeal Only” Plan
After agreeing to discuss reforms to Obamacare, a Trumpcare plan was proposed which would serve to repeal the Affordable Care Act altogether without a replacement in plan. In the event that this passed, it would be followed by a 2 year period in which the government and health insurance industry would have time to create an alternative to Obamacare. This plan hasn’t gained much popularity due to the fact that this 2 year period would likely destabilize the healthcare market even further, raising premiums and reducing coverage for the American people. It seems that the majority of Americans feel that this would be a step in the wrong direction. For this reason, the Senate voted against this amendment with 45 in favor votes and 55 against. Even 7 Republicans voted against the movement including Senator Lamar Anderson of Tennessee, Senator Shelly Capito of West Virginia, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, Senator John McCain of Arizona, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Senator Rob Portman of Ohio.
“Skinny Repeal” Plan
Another attempt at the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act was voted against in the Senate on July 28th. This “skinny repeal” would eliminate Obamacare’s tax on medical devices and the individual and employer mandates. Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had spent the previous several weeks attempting to gain support for this amendment from members of Congress and reportedly seemed shocked when it didn’t receive the amount of votes it needed to pass. Three Republican lawmakers including Senator John McCain of Arizona, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Senator Susan Collins of Maine voted against the majority of Republicans to disallow the passage of the bill. John McCain, a long time opponent of Obamacare, has openly refused to support any new bill which isn’t bipartisan. He believes that Republicans and Democrats must work together in order to create a successful healthcare reform. CNN reports that this skinny repeal could have wreaked havoc in the healthcare market by causing premium prices to increase up to 20 percent, while the Congressional Budget Office reported that this bill could raise the nations uninsured population by 15 million.
Why Won’t Obamacare Budge?
Now that Americans are beginning to understand the significance of the Affordable Care Act and the many protections it has given to consumers, critics of it’s removal feel confident that Republicans will face an extreme challenge repealing it. A statement by Former House Speaker John Boehner has been leaked in which he admits that it will be impossible for Republicans to completely remove Obamacare as it’s not what the people want.
As of now, the Affordable Care Act still stands, requiring all Americans to have an Obamacare compliant insurance plan for the upcoming year. The next enrollment period will begin on November 1st and end December 15th for the 2018 plan year. One can only hope that from all this conflict a truly bipartisan conclusion can be met which will benefit the American people.