The Main Reason the House Bill is ‘Obamacare Lite’: Americans Want It
House GOP leaders unveiled their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Monday. It was immediately met with harsh criticism from fellow Republican lawmakers, with Rand Paul designating it as “Obamacare lite;” yet, President Trump immediately tweeted his satisfaction with the bill. Though it’s still early in the process, what this bill readily shows is that, despite several glaring problems with Obama’s signature health care legislation accomplishment, Americans in general think that health care is an essential right.
For the last several years, the outcry among conservatives has been that the health bill infamously passed during President Obama’s first term in office, needed to be repealed and replaced. Many wrongly assumed that because, with each preceding election following Barack Obama’s inauguration, Democrats continued to lose elections, this meant Americans agreed with their position on healthcare.
The number one reason Obamacare remains unpopular is the individual mandate, that forces people to purchase health insurance. Now that it’s had several years of implementation, it’s even worse than anyone imagined, as it has effectively decreased options and driven up health care costs. This was foreseeable. However, at the conceptual epicenter of Obamacare was something that was much more amenable to the general populace: the idea that government should make health insurance available for everyone.
The new health care bill proposed by republicans proves that we have gone to far to turn back in our national thinking. To attempt any free market remedy to Obamacare, a true repeal, would not be politically feasible for many of the elected officials in D.C. Unfortunately, people now believe health care is a “right,” and the very thought of even one person losing their Medicaid coverage, or private insurance, worse being unable to get insurance, is the cataclysmic equivalent of the proverbial sky falling.
Conservatives, like Senator Paul, believe health care is an individual responsibility. However, an increasing majority of Americans do not share this belief. According to a Pew Poll, currently 60% of Americans say the government should be responsible for ensuring health care coverage for all Americans and the amount of Republicans who think this has grown to 32%. It is statistics like this that are making it unlikely that any real repeal bill will ever be in the offing for the GOP leadership.
Their proposal keeps things such as Obamacare-like subsidies to buy insurance, but repackages them as tax credit, and even expands the coverage of these; it maintains a form of the individual mandate by placing a tax penalty to insurance companies for failure to sign up for a plan during designated times; also, it continues the expansion of Medicaid, though, only through 2020.
Many have written about the economic problems associated with this new plan, which are either as bad as Obamacare, or maybe even potentially worse. This is not at all surprising though, since it seems Republicans are focusing on coverage numbers, while also attempting to lower costs through the regulatory structure. Many analysts predict they will achieve neither.
Conservatives in Congress have met Ryan’s replacement plan with disgust. The Republican Study Committee released a memo stating: “writing checks to individuals to purchase insurance is, in principle, Obamacare. It does allow more choices for individuals, and is more patient-centered, but is fundamentally grounded on the idea that the federal government should fund insurance purchases.”
HHS Secretary Tom Price, and Paul Ryan argue that this is just the beginning phase of a comprehensive three part plan to completely overhaul the Affordable Care Act. The truth is though, this is but a leaner version of Obamacare. It seems that too many in this country view health care coverage as an essential right that government should ensure. Without changing that viewpoint, any attempt to return to a laissez faire market place system of health insurance will have to wait.
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