Obamacare Trump's Next Victim

Obamacare: Trump’s Next Victim

8 May 2017 06:56 PM

The Health Care Act signed by President Barack Obama in 2010 aims to provide medical insurance for 95% of the US population by 2019, and make it simpler and less costly than before. Donald Trump promised to scrap it once he became president. 

For nearly a century, the issue of medical care has been one of the main points of disagreement between Democrats and Republicans in a country where some 50 million people currently lack health insurance.

Since the late President Theodore Roosevelt first called for a reform of the health care system, many administrations have sought to enact legislation in this direction, but their efforts to make radical changes have failed, as was the case with Bill Clinton's plan between 1993 and 1994.

The Most Important Achievement

Obama’s act of 2010 is seen as the most important reform of the health care system since 1965, that is since the enactment of legislation that facilitated treatment for the country’s senior citizens.

It is also considered to be Obama’s most important achievement in his first mandate in office and is supposed to make a big change in the private health insurance market unless it is nullified by the new president Donald Trump, as he has promised during his election campaign.

Until 2010, the United States was the only developed country that didn’t provide public health care coverage to its citizens, leaving it up to private companies. According to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, US has the highest healthcare spending in the world. It had reached $2.6 trillion in 2011, or $8402 per citizen.

Obamacare’s Principles

Obamacare aimed to make the federal government a rival to private insurance companies; its principle goals were as follows:

- Impose a penalty on companies that don’t provide individual health insurance

- Companies with 50 or more full-time workers will have to insure their full-time staff

- Prohibit insurance companies from dropping people from coverage when they get sick, which had been a common occurrence in the United States

- Prohibit the insurer from dropping the elderly from coverage

- Provide financial assistance from the federal government to individuals who cannot afford insurance for themselves

- Expand Medicaid coverage to more low-income Americans

Funding & Limitations

In order to fund Obamacare, the Federal government imposed new fines and fees, such as taxes on companies with expensive health insurance. But the Act has limitations on federal assistance, too. It cannot be used, for example, for abortions except in cases such as rape or incest, or when the pregnancy threatens the mother’s life. Also, no coverage for illegal immigrants even if they can afford it from their own pocket.

The Congress Budget committee estimated that this plan would cost $938 billion from the federal treasury in 10 years, while reducing the budget deficit by $143 Trillion in 20 years.

The Act & Freedoms

From the beginning, this act faced Republican opposition, and it was not approved by them during the Congress vote in 2010. The opponents of this act say that it contradicts the constitution, and  focused on the sections that required Americans to purchase a health insurance policy, which they considered to be an assault on civil liberties and interference in the authority of individual states.

Opponents also said that this act would increase federal spending and would allow the federal government to dominate the health insurance market. In 2011, all Republican nominated candidates without exception took a pledge to drop the act if they were elected to the presidency. It was described by Republican nominee Mitt Romney as an “economic disaster awaiting the US economy.”

Supporters saw it as Congress’ responsibility to enact comprehensive health care since it has the authority to regulate trade and impose taxes on citizens. In their opinion this act would help to decrease federal spending on health care, which consumes 17% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

They also countered opponents by claiming that this new reform would expand private companies’ market to include many young people shopping for a medical insurance policy. Congress summarized the costs of uninsured Americans or those who cannot pay when they go to clinics to be $75 billion annually, which means an additional cost of $1000 per insured family.

Many provisions of this Act implemented in 2010 include:

  • Prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage for children because of a pre-existing medical condition
  • Prohibiting insurance companies from determining the age of people who can benefit from medical insurance
  • Dependents can stay on their parent’s plan until age 26.

The US Congress on May 4, 2017, decided to replace the Obamacare system following Donald Trump’s victory.

The Republicans have passed a controversial bill to reform the health care system in the United States, claiming that they achieved a victory, although the fate of this new act is uncertain because of a deeply divided Senate.

Under intense pressure to prove that they can govern and fulfill their promise to replace Obama’s Health Care Act with a new one, the Republican party pushed its own act forward after adopting a last-minute change to get enough votes for it to pass. However, the passed version did not include all the provisions forecast by the Republicans. There are major changes from the previous act, but it hasn’t completely voided it.

The process that lead to the May 4th vote took months, but it did not fulfill many Republican promises about how they would tackle healthcare reform. The process carried on without benefiting from Congress Budget Office analysis of anticipated cost and the impact on health insurance coverage. This happened after the Republicans admitted that they did not read the full text of the bill. Trump also promised that health insurance would cover everyone, but this was not reflected in the bill.

However, the US Health Care Act, that passed by 217 votes against 213, represents a major but incomplete political victory for President Trump, who fought hard for tangible legislative victories in the early days of his presidency. The vote also represents a victory for House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has spent years trying to dismantle Obamacare but has recently struggled to unite the ideologically divided blocs in the House of Representatives.

The bill would give states the power to set up important health insurance rules and would end up subsidizing people in buying health plans through insurer markets established by law. Among the controversial provisions of the bill is that states are given the power to allow insurance companies to return to their old practice of charging customers with pre-existing medical conditions more fees, which is prohibited by current law.

On the other hand, as Republicans celebrate their victory, they are facing a big hurdle in the Senate. Republican Senators said that their strategy would be based on the formulation of their own alternative to Obamacare. It remains unclear how similar it will be to the bill passed in the House of Representatives, or whether the Republican senators will resolve their disputes.

A small group of Republican representatives met in senior United States Senator Mitch McConnell’s office to begin prioritizing the health care bill, according to Senator John Cornyn, McConnell’s deputy.

And in his first comment, the newly elected US President Donald Trump said that Americans had suffered from Obama’s health care system and that the new program would ensure a reduction in costs. Trump added in a news conference that the Obamacare system had died and that a great victory had been achieved: "We are waiting for Senate approval."


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