ACA Is "Law Of The Land" For Foreseeable Future


During the 2016 presidential election, the GOP vowed to attack the Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as “Obamacare,” like a hurricane. When the Republican Party won the triple crown of the Oval Office, House of Representatives, and Senate, most citizens assumed that Barack Obama’s namesake law would quickly be lost in the ensuing tempest. The Democratic Party, wounded and hurting, seemed embroiled in bitter infighting while trying to assign blame for the unexpected defeat of Hillary Clinton. 

That was four and a half months ago, in the dark days after November 8.

When Donald Trump took the oath of office on January 20 and became our 45th president, he vowed to replace Obamacare as soon as possible. But, within weeks, it appeared that the initiative was in trouble. Storm clouds appeared on the GOP’s horizons when Trump complained that healthcare reform was more “complicated” than anyone could have anticipated. Critics laughed at the idea that a president could be so naïve: Of course comprehensive healthcare reform is complicated!

In the House of Representatives, committees labored on the Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill.  By the beginning of March, many were miffed that such a momentous bill was being crafted in secret. In an amazing bit of political theater, libertarian Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) stormed over to the House to demand a look at the bill. Liberals and conservatives alike began complaining about the healthcare bill being created in secret, and opined that the secrecy must be because the proposal was a real stinker.

To make a long story short, they appeared to be right. When the repeal-and-replace bill was finally revealed, dubbed the American Health Care Act, it was savaged from all sides. Liberals hated all of it, moderate Republicans worried about its rolling back of Medicaid, and conservative Republicans hated that it continued a version of Obamacare’s individual mandate.  When the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the law would eventually strip 24 million Americans of health insurance, the bill received an irreparable tarnish.

Though President Donald Trump, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-KY) all insisted that the CBO was dead wrong, the number 24 million was downright scary to most Americans… and any Republican running for re-election in 2018. After many congressional Republicans vowed not to vote for the AHCA, the GOP began trying to edit the bill to pick up more votes. Wanting a quick vote, President Donald Trump tried to rally the conservative troops by insisting that anyone who voted against it would be at risk of losing re-election. 

Many Republicans in Congress appear to have called Trump’s bluff, because the AHCA vote in the House was called off at the last moment for lack of support. And it’s not just a temporary delay: Speaker Paul Ryan has admitted that Obamacare is the “law of the land” for the foreseeable future. Right now, the GOP is licking its wounds. For a tough-talking “dealmaker” like Donald Trump, the failure of the Obamacare repeal is a humiliation…especially since his party controlled all of Congress.

So what now?

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