The process for “Repeal and Replace” begins. President Donald Trump repeated the phrase every time a discussion about America’s current health care plan was mentioned. The Affordable Care Act or Obamacare is the largest single contribution former President Obama made during his time in the White House. Although advocates of the plan raved about the number of Americans now insured under the plan, opponents have desired an alternative with just as much or perhaps more, passion.
Despite how anyone feels about Obamacare, one thing is sure, the health care plan is facing the end, as the GOP works to honor the promise of President Trump to replace the health care plan with a better choice. The challenge, however, is that the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is already being harshly criticized in its current state.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) says, “My problem is there’re taxes, mandates and subsidies, sounds like Obamacare lite to me.” The Senator goes on to indicate that the provision in the new plan mirror or are slightly altered when compared to Obama care. Paul said, “The Obamacare taxes that most conservatives object to, [AHCA] keeps them for a year, the Cadillac tax, it keeps forever. It keeps the subsidies, but renames them refundable tax credits, and believe it or not, it keeps the individual mandate,” as reported by the Washington Post.
It could be argued that the best approach is to separate the repeal from the replacement of Obamacare. Sen Paul believes the part of the legislation that removes the tax penalty paid to the government under Obamacare, with a penalty to be paid to insurance companies, may be unconstitutional, which could threaten the entire repeal act.
The comments by Sen Paul are indicative of the frustrations many conservatives expressed Tuesday, March 7, 2017, as more details of the proposed plan emerged. Leaders involved in drafting the bills took a defensive stand against the critics, to make it known that the details of the proposals could change.
Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore), who helped to craft one the bills said, “We now have a bill that’s available to read.” During a news conference on Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman indicated that he is encouraging others to compare the bill against others, and “Then let’s have a thoughtful legislative discussion,” with the intent to develop a health care plan that will receive enthusiastic endorsements from the top conservative leaders.
Ideally that ‘open arms’ attitude toward working to reach a solution will encourage members of the Congress to keep an open mind. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said, “As Republicans, we can act now, or we can keep fiddling around and squander this opportunity to repeal Obamacare and begin a new chapter of freedom for the American people.” Despite the agitation among many conservatives toward the bills in their current state, Walden says, “House Republicans are choosing to act now.”
Conservative advocacy groups were no more favorable than many of the top conservatives. Freedom works highlighted the proposed 30 percent surcharge on premiums for those who are not continually covered for more than two months. The Americans for Prosperity also recommends that leadership “go back to the drawing board,” according to The Atlantic. The most stinging criticism stems from a failure of the proposal to completely dismantle the signature policy of former President Obama.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) said its Obamacare in a different format, and like many others, Jordan believes the bills are not acceptable, and more work needs to be done on the health care plan.
So, the bottom line is to put it in a language that is easily understood, which will give the American people something to have confidence in, and support, despite their political stance. At this point, the bills are still new, and more negotiation is necessary before the final legislation reaches President Trump’s desk.
In the meantime, here are some of the primary elements of the bill to replace Obamacare, according to Politifact:
- Insurance plans will no longer be required to cover most care; policies for catastrophes will be again allowed.
- College students and adult children can stay on their parents’ plans, until their 26.
- Most of the taxes from the 2010 health care plan will be repealed.
- Pre-existing conditions will still be covered; however, insurance companies can charge more for anyone who had not been previously insured.
The question on the minds of most Americans covered under Obamacare is how the proposed health care plan will affect their current coverage. Although it may be too soon to understand the widespread changes, regardless of the final bill, it would not go into effect until 2019.
The idea of an affordable health care plan in the United States has been around for decades; the challenge is no one perfect plan works for every circumstance. So perhaps now is not the time to totally discount this early effort of the GOP, but rather look to the future with hope, and take out the time to let your voice be heard.
By Jireh Gibson
POLITIFACT: 7 takeaways from the GOP health care plan to replace Obamacare
The Washington Post: Conservatives lash out at House GOP’s Obamacare replacement bill
The Atlantic: The Conservative Uprising Against the Republican Health-Care Bill
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