The future of the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, continues to hang in the balance as the Republicans and President Donald Trump work through what they plan to do in terms of repealing, replacing, and dismantling the program. Democrats are pushing hard against the idea of doing away with the ACA and the benefits it has brought to millions, while people across the country are getting more and more vocal about the issues at hand.
The Republicans have been trying to repeal and dismantle the Affordable Care Act ever since it went into effect and President Donald Trump was quite vocal throughout his campaign about replacing Obamacare with something better. Now that the Republicans have the majority in the House and the Senate, they are anxious to move forward in tearing the ACA apart. However, they are facing significant challenges on this front.
The process to repeal parts of the ACA has already started via the reconciliation process, but there has been a bit of a pause or a stall as the Republicans work through how to proceed. There is no consensus as of yet about how to replace Obamacare and opposition to tearing the coverage apart is rising on many fronts. As the Hill recently detailed, polls are showing increased support for keeping the Affordable Care Act and registrations for 2017 in multiple states increased over prior years.
Increasing numbers of voters speaking up against a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and polls have shifted to show more support for Obamacare now than ever before. In addition, many involved in other areas related to the ACA, such as insurers, doctors, and hospitals, are voicing concern about an ACA repeal as well, especially if no replacement is immediately put together. Numerous warnings about repealing without replacing are emerging, especially as insurers face a spring deadline for filing their 2018 pricing structures and they feel uncertain about what they will face next year.
So far, Republicans have put forth little in terms of a feasible replacement plan, although the pace of this slow progress will likely shift now that Tom Price has been confirmed as the new Health Secretary. Price has been vocal in the past about wanting to see massive changes in the replacement approach the Republicans would put together, and his past proposals have sparked concern among those who rely on the Affordable Care Act.
Despite President Trump, Representative Paul Ryan, and numerous others insisting that a full repeal would come quickly and a replacement would emerge relatively soon, Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander has been talking about what lies ahead a bit differently. As Politico notes, Alexander has shifted to talk more about moving slowly, thinking carefully, and repairing the issues with Obamacare rather than a full-blown repeal and dismantling of the ACA.
Alexander suggests a focus on expanding Medicaid and working to help those relying on the insurance exchanges for affordable coverage, and he has insisted that his priorities are in sync with those of Ryan and Price. However, efforts to strip away the taxes that fund the Obamacare subsidies are underway within other groups in Congress and many things remain up in the air.
Just ahead of his inauguration, Trump said that he would put a plan into place that would ensure that everybody had insurance, details the Washington Post, and his wording generated significant buzz as he shared nothing else in terms of specifics. Republicans have already missed a January deadline related to their repeal and replace process and both Democrats in Congress and constituents are getting more vocal by the day against demolishing the ACA.
More talk has been emerging about slowing the process down, perhaps over the course of a few years, but those who rely on Obamacare for coverage remain anxious about what the future holds in terms of their access to affordable health coverage. Reports have stated that a full repeal could eliminate coverage for 18 million or more people almost immediately, lead to issues for many hospitals, and eliminate up to 3 million jobs according to CNBC. In addition, as CNN notes, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget revealed that repealing Obamacare without a full replacement with similar components would cost $350 billion over the course of the next decade.
No clear answer regarding the path forward for either fixing or replacing Obamacare has come together as of yet, but it does appear that Republicans have slowed down slightly and are taking pause when it comes to fully dismantling the Affordable Care Act as quickly as they initially intended. Those wary of what comes next are holding their breath and will be anxious to see where things head as Health Secretary Tom Price gets up and running in his new position and tackles the complex issues surrounding the ACA.
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