When the 115th Congress convenes this week, Republicans with full control of the House and Senate will have the full power to implement their conservative agenda. The legislation will form to create the basis of the most ambitious conservative policy agenda since the early 1920s.
During times of party unification, if you can call this government that, in both the House and Senate, the electorate chooses a president from the opposite party in an attempt to balance and check powers. The full Republican agenda didn’t just happen overnight; it has been years in the making, along with support for slashing business taxes and stripping Planned Parenthood of federal funding.
All that said, their plan for the Affordable Care Act takes the cake as far as what their agenda entails: a full repeal and replacement of the healthcare bill. With a president-elect who shows no signs of putting a halt to this detrimental agenda, what exactly does a full repeal of the ACA mean for the country and the 20 million plus Americans on the health care plan? Working class Americans, Democrat or Republican, have a tremendous amount to be worried about.
Throughout his campaign and now transition, Donald Trump has flip-flopped on his stances regarding a full Obamacare repeal, more recently claiming that he wants to keep the “good parts” and repeal the “bad parts” of the healthcare bill. He has said he plans to do so, along with passing a bevy of proposals ranging from immigration reform to tax cut implementation, within his first 100 days in office. However, a full repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act would be next to impossible to enact within Trump’s first 100 days.
The processes of repealing every provision and writing a fair and adequate replacement bill have proven to take a long time. Knowing the information first hand, congressional Republicans have reportedly been leaning towards a plan that repeals parts of the law at the beginning of this year via the budget reconciliation process. By doing this, they will delay a new system from being put in place for at least three years.
In other words, Congress would defund Obamacare’s key provisions but postpone a full replacement of the bill, something they’ve been working on for years without any significant progress. This repeal could include most if not all, provisions that require funding, such as tax credits, mandates, and Medicaid expansion but leave provisions like pre-existing conditions protections in place. These protections drive prices up for Americans on the plan, while tax credits, Medicaid expansion, and mandates keep the A.C.A. affordable by funneling money into the system.
While for most Republicans repealing Obamacare seems like a dream come true, a full repeal entails not only the loss of coverage for Americans but also a blow to the healthcare industry as a whole. In addition to a rise in deficit spending (which includes increasing debt) and, in most cases, it will cause prices for many to rise on the plan.
The Affordable Care Act has been upheld in two supreme court cases (2012 & 2015), making it “the law of the land” and incredibly difficult to repeal overnight, even with a “unified” House and Senate. If the ACA were to be repealed, a majority of the benefits, rights, and protections, including protections for those with pre-existing conditions, would disappear. Repealing protections does nothing to curb federal, state, or personal health care spending, and would stand to be a huge detriment to new consumer rights and protections regarding healthcare.
If Republicans decide to change course and just defund Obamacare, a different set of benefits gets slashed. The benefits that could be the first to go are Medicaid expansion, federal financial assistance for marketplace coverage, and individual and employer mandates. Repealing those cost benefits and not the protections as well would raise consumer prices and cut aid, however, would most likely save on federal spending.
A huge talking point for most Republicans is the money to be saved on repealing the health care act and on rising premiums. An example that is commonly invoked among Obamacare opponents that of the rising premiums in the state of Arizona, which are set to go up a whopping 116%.
At first, Obamacare implementation in the Grand Canyon State was deemed a success. Eight insurers were competing to sign consumers up, each offering a wide variety of plans with affordable premiums. However, today most Arizonans are only able to find one insurer selling exchange plans for 2017, with premiums for some becoming unbearable. But this is less of a problem with Obamacare than it is with the implementation of the law and the marketplace. A tremendous amount of people tend to place a lot of focus on the marketplaces, but Obamacare is bigger than just that.
House Republicans have looked towards loosening rules on insurers in an attempt to decrease premiums. At this point, however, there is little to suggest that doing this or repealing Obamacare would lower premiums. Furthermore, the millions who would lose coverage could send the market into chaos, driving premium prices to skyrocket in the short term.
Moreover, the last two years Obama has been able to raise taxes through the Affordable Care Act in an attempt to drive prices down. Through these tax increases and the expansion of Medicare/Medicaid, the economy has been able to grow and show the future of how our economy should run. Alas, Republicans want to rid of these tax hikes, but not for the people who need it. Specifically, Republicans will be targeting the surtax on investment income of 3.8 percent for households earning at least 250,000 or 200,000 if you’re single. Americans for Tax Reforms created this chart below to show the tax hikes that were happening under the Affordable Care Act.
This leads to my final point of the significance behind repealing the Affordable Care Act; it’s all about the tax cuts.
Finally, Republicans have tried to play nice and coy about why they want to repeal Obamacare, but their goal is simple: tax cuts. Data recently released from the
Brookings Tax Policy Center show that a full repeal of the healthcare bill would “significantly raise taxes on about 7 million low to moderate income families” due to the loss of premium tax credits to buy coverage, which is purchased through the marketplace. While millionaires “would reap 53 percent of the net tax cuts,” which is more than double the tax cuts implemented during the George W. Bush administration, multi-millionaires benefit the most, with the 0.1 percent tax cuts “averaging $260,630 apiece, raising their after-tax incomes by 2.5 percent.” The 0.1 percent would receive about one-third of the net tax cuts because the country knows how much they need those tax breaks.
What does this mean for the country? Well, it all depends on how much a person makes, and if you make a lot of money, there isn’t much to be worried about. However, a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act will leave millions without insurance and no viable alternative. It will cause more than three million people in the healthcare industry to lose their jobs. It will, in the short-term, prompt the marketplaces to spiral into chaos and drive costs through the roof for people who need the coverage the most. Lastly, if not the most crucial piece, Donald Trump would be not only responsible for all of the chaos but also guilty of lying about one of his biggest campaign promises. There cannot be a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act without cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which is something Donald Trump vehemently promised wouldn’t be touched.
‘The Donald’ and Republicans seem to care more about their money, interests, and the well-being of their cronies rather than those of everyday Americans. Middle America, both geographically and economically, need to have their money, interests, and well-being met. When the average citizen loses, we all lose, but when they win, we all win and for us to start winning again; the Affordable Care Act needs to stay.
Rutgers Student studying Political Science & Government with a minor in Journalism who has an interest in the intersection of journalism and political movements.