If elected the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump promised that one of the first things he would do is repeal Obamacare. While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has always been a subject of intense friction in the Congress, never has it been in actual peril, until today, when the Republicans actually hold absolute power to derail or choke, if not completely kill it.
During the final week of his grand election campaign that was filled with strong, provocative and sometimes even suggestive language, President-elect Donald Trump reiterated his conviction about repealing Obamacare. In his trademark boisterous and confident drawl, Trump said his actions would be swift, and he just might have to summon Congress for a special session to accomplish the task at the earliest:
“We will do it, and we will do it very, very quickly. It is a catastrophe,”
Surprisingly, it seems Trump, who has been elected as the leader of America after Obama vacates the White House in January, all but retracted his statement. A senior Republican Senate spokesman sounded unsure about the Republican government’s conviction about repealing Obamacare. He noted the government has yet to formulate its strategy. Interestingly, when Barack Obama was still the active Commander-in-Chief of the United States, the GOP-led House tried its best to rescind the ACA.
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Needless to add, the Republicans have been struggling for six years now to repeal the ACA, reported Vox. There were at least a dozen voting sessions, though each time, Obama himself vetoed them, and ensured Americans had access to subsidized healthcare plans with seemingly affordable premiums. While President Obama actively derailed the congressional attempts to repeal Obamacare, it will soon be Donald Trump, a Republican himself, sitting in the Executive chair.
Interestingly, the ACA is a labyrinth of legislation. Thousands of laws and bylaws have been carefully compiled and enacted that cumulatively are referred to as Obamacare. Simply signing an executive order won’t end Obamacare as Americans know it. Moreover, the just formed Senate’s Republican majority will continue to remain short of the 60 votes that are needed for a full repeal that cannot be further challenged.
Despite the gargantuan hurdles, President-elect Donald Trump could sign a few executive orders that can make the Affordable Care Act not so affordable for the insurers. Trump could easily drop the administration’s appeal of a lawsuit filed by Republican House members in 2014. This would allow the lower court ruling, which was against Obamacare, to stand.
In effect, the government could legally restrict, and eventually stop, the reimbursement to the insurers who have been staunch supporters of ACA, and have been offering substantial discounts to at least half their customers. This would mean, by law, the insurers would have to continue providing the deep discounts, but now they won’t be assured of any subsidies from the government.
Essentially, they will be forced to sell insurance that is way below the cost that the insurers will have to incur to extend that coverage. With no money flowing in, the insurers will slowly but surely start withdrawing their support and drop out.
Another simple way Trump could derail Obamacare without actually repealing it, is by not enforcing the law which mandates most people to avail insurance.
Fortunately, many Americans have been benefitting from the expanded access to Medicaid. Apart from being present in 31 states and counting, Medicaid now allows children or adult dependents to continue to remain protected through their parents’ insurance plans until they are 26-years-old. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that more than 21 million Americans have been insured under some affordable healthcare plan since 2010, reported the Congressional Budget Office.
Interestingly, it was Trump himself, who suggested that those seeking insurance should be allowed to do so irrespective of the state borders. This would promote healthy competition; ensuring premiums continue to stay relatively low, he said. Moreover, the President-elect also suggested Medicare should be granted the power to negotiate drug prices.
Unpredictability is Donald Trump’s trademark. Though he has time-and-again called Obamacare a disaster, he takes the most powerful seat at a very critical juncture, especially when Americans have been openly grumbling about the rising premiums and expensive healthcare, reported CBS News. Hence it is quite likely that Trump might introduce some customized variant, perhaps loosely based on Obamacare.
[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]