Republicans Begin Affordable Care Act Repeal

By: Meghan Malas

As most expected, the newly established and now Republican-controlled Congress made their first order of business to begin the repeal process of the Affordable Care Act. Since its implementation in early 2010, the act (also known as Obamacare), has stirred up a fair amount of controversy among both parties. Prominent conservatives like Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have repeatedly supported defunding or eliminating the act and the Republican Party’s strong opposition contributed to a government shutdown at the beginning of the fiscal year in 2013. Many GOP candidates in both the 2012 and 2016 elections made the removal of the Affordable Care Act a main part of their platform. When questioned why they believe Obamacare is disastrous, many conservatives note that the act is not business friendly, that companies and employers will have to pay more for health services. However, beyond this, any other problems with the ACA have yet to be discussed on a largely public scale.

Democrats and President Obama himself have admitted that Obamacare is not perfect, but it has fulfilled its intentions. The Obamacare informational website reports that 16.4 million people have gained health insurance with the ACA since 2010. This number is significant by any standard, and the immense amount of people who are now insured under the Affordable Care Act is one concern for those who do not support the act’s repeal. Little has changed in the conversation about healthcare since 2010, and though many Republicans are still pro-repeal, no obvious plan of replacement has been discussed. Some Republicans have even opposed its repeal, in fear that the millions of now uninsured Americans will now be at risk of losing their lives, or using welfare resources. In an interview with USA Today, Governor John Kasich of Ohio inquired, “Let’s just say they got rid of it, didn’t replace it with anything, what happens to drug treatment? What happens to mental health counseling? What happens to these people who have very high cholesterol and are victims of heart attacks, what happens to them?” More moderate Republicans, like Kasich, cite the federally funded health care policy, Medicaid, and its success in the individual states that chose to expand it.

Popular opinion of the Affordable Care Act’s removable is less than favorable as well. NPR reports that 75% of Americans say they either want lawmakers to leave Obamacare alone, or repeal it only when they can replace it with a new health care law. Twenty percent of those polled say they want to see the law killed immediately. A report by the Kaiser Foundation states that Obamacare isn’t even people’s top health care concern. The vast majority, 67%, say their top priority is finding a way to lower their health care costs. As of now, Congress says the plan is to “give the law time to sunset while they come up with a replacement that will give the millions of people covered under Obamacare access to insurance through some other vehicle.” But this is not a plan many Americans, including doctors, insurers, and hospital workers, are comfortable with. Dr. Andrew Gurman, president of the American Medical Association, pleaded with lawmakers on the basis that, “Patients and other stakeholders should be able to clearly compare current policy to new proposals so they can make informed decisions about whether it represents a step forward in the ongoing process of health reform.”

The situation as a whole is riddled with uncertainty, fear, and division. But this decision of repeal or expansion will be one that will continue to affect the lives of Americans and their families for years to come. Thus, any act to drastically change the healthcare system should be taken with tremendous caution.

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