President Trump and much of the Republican Party have relentlessly attacked the Affordable Care Act (ACA) since its inception, saying they would replace it with a new, better coverage plan. Obama’s legacy of his beloved “Obamacare” may soon be overshadowed by the new American Health Care Act (AHCA) proposed by President Trump, which he referred to as, “wonderful, great, really, really—I think—good.” So just how great is it?
Well, the AHCA fails to deliver on what Republicans have sought to achieve. Its purpose was obstructed by the anti-Obama rhetoric that has overwhelmed the party. Several Fox News anchors have been quoted on air claiming the bill was “dead on arrival.” Even Republican representatives dislike the bill, including noted party member Rand Paul, who stated, “Conservatives hate their bill.” President Trump has tweeted to the contrary, with messages such as: “We are making great progress with healthcare. ObamaCare [sic] is imploding and will only get worse. Republicans coming together to get job done!” It seems that the bill has created extreme divisiveness in the party, both among Republican members of Congress and between congressional Republicans and the president.
To better understand the controversy, look at the content of the bill itself. It gives wealthy Americans a huge tax break, as the subsidies given to Americans struggling to afford health insurance will be changed from income-based (along with other factors) to a flat tax that is age-based. (Previously, the higher income oneself had the fewer subsidies he or she received, but under the new bill, those under 30 receive $2,000 and those 65 and older get $4,000). To see how the AHCA would impact you and/or your family, click here for an interactive map.
One thing remains definitively clear: lower income individuals are far more disadvantaged since the bill’s main purpose is to almost completely slash Medicaid, the government program to provide medical insurance to poor and disabled Americans. Should these people be unable to obtain medical insurance, taxpayers will bear the cost of their use of some resources, such as emergency medical services. This out-of-pocket cost generally costs the taxpayer more than if the service had been covered by Medicaid in the first place. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has indicated that the bill would cut $370 billion dollars of federal funding from Medicaid. This means that states will be expected to make up that gap, a nearly impossible feat for almost all of them. If the gap remains, millions of Americans will lose coverage.
Republicans vouch that the AHCA is superior to the ACA while still claiming that there will be insurance for everyone. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) just released a report that the number of uninsured people will rise by 24 million thanks to several factors, including the proposed cuts to Medicaid. This means Paul Ryan, Jason Chaffetz, and President Trump, who seem to be the only Republicans openly supporting the AHCA, are willing to give tax breaks to the wealthiest people in the country at the expense of 24 million Americans’ health insurance. (For perspective, the population of Texas is about 27 million people…).
No need to worry, though, as the bill does contain some very important legislation: the six pages dedicated to removing someone who is poor from the subsidies if they happen to win the lottery. So, there’s no need to stress about huge groups of poor people winning the lottery and taking advantage of the $2,000 to $4,000 dollars the bill allocates them.
The agenda of the Republican Party has been constrained by anti-Obamacare sentiments within the party itself. Republicans pride themselves on very limited government involvement across the board, which is completely antithesis to the AHCA. If they’re going to label Obamacare a “complete and horrible imploding disaster,” as President Trump has tweeted, they shouldn’t introduce what many of their own party members consider “Obamacare Lite.” The Republican Party and President Trump should stand by their principles and introduce legislation in support of said principles (i.e., no government involvement in healthcare). The alternative would be to admit they were making unjustified claims about Obamacare and fix the ACA instead of attempting to “repeal and replace” it. In the words of author John C. Maxwell, “A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.”