The recent failure of President Trump and the Republicans to “repeal and replace” Obamacare is a victory for America. It is one more piece of evidence of Trump’s braggadocio and of the seven-year Republican partisan attack on anything associated with President Obama.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was crafted to include the conservative concept of individual mandates for health insurance as an alternative to single-payer health care. The individual mandate for private health insurance was also part of the Massachusetts health care law signed by Mitt Romney and lauded by many prominent Republicans. During President Obama’s first term, bipartisan House and Senate committees worked for many hours to further develop a health care bill that ultimately passed both the House and the Senate. But almost immediately after President Obama signed the bill into law, Republicans began promising to “repeal and replace” it.
Republicans have voted more that sixty times to destroy Obamacare. They have never attempted a genuine effort to create a comprehensive health care system or to improve the system millions of Americans now depend on. The percentage of people without health insurance fell from 16.0% in 2010 to 8.9% in 2016. The uninsured rate dropped in every congressional district in the U.S. More than 24 million Americans now have health insurance who did not have it before. Several studies by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) indicated that Obamacare will reduce the national deficit by $210 billion during the 2012-2021 period, and that repealing it will increase the deficit. And yet, the Republicans and President Trump are still dedicated to the failed dogmatism of “free markets,” tax breaks for the wealthy, subsidizing health insurance corporations, minimizing social support systems for those in need, and, most of all, destroying anything associated with President Obama.
The majority of Americans now support Obamacare as they see that “death panels”don’t exist, there are no bureaucrats between them and their doctors, premiums are increasing less than before ACA was enacted, illegal immigrants are not eligible for benefits under ACA, and that Obamacare is not “exploding” or in a “death spiral.” Republican propaganda is failing.
Obamacare can be improved. It has many good features, including coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, coverage for adult children to age 26, elimination of annual and life-time benefit limits, elimination of the”doughnut hole” in drug policies, Medicare preventive services with no copay, and requiring insurance carriers to spend at least 85 percent of their premium dollars on health care. But health care costs are still too high, and not everyone has health care who needs it. Let’s build on what we have. Health care is a right for all Americans.
The problem is not the details of comprehensive, affordable health care policy as much as it is right-wing ideologues who would rather defeat progressives than cooperate with them to find the best possible solutions for American citizens. Stubbornly destroying anything President Obama passed and opposing anything Democrats support will not help America. We have a combative president who sees almost everyone as an enemy to be vilified and destroyed and a congress that has members who are so radical that they reject even their own party. Rigid polarization and obstructionism have replaced cooperation and collaboration in Washington. Fueled by propagandists on the airwaves and the Internet and spinmeisters in the White House, the entire nation is being provoked into continual conflict and a dysfunctional standoff. Perhaps the recent string of losses by the President and the Republicans will encourage a different, more collaborative strategy. That could improve health for all of us.