Half the country is rejoicing at the GOP defeat, while the other half is shaking their head in disbelief. Obamacare is still the law of the land.
The American Health Act was controversial from the start. Democrats disliked it because it repealed key elements of Obamacare, defunded Planned Parenthood, and started to scale back Medicaid spending and coverage. Conservatives disliked it because it maintained many Affordable Care Act provisions and did not convince many that it would lower insurance premiums, ensure young individuals to put money into the market and fix our healthcare system.
On Friday, March 24th, House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the bill before the final vote, and conceded saying, “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”
President Donald Trump stated, “We had no Democratic support,” and added “I’ve been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we could do, politically speaking, is let Obamacare explode. It’s exploding right now.”
So while Democratic and Republican opponents of the bill celebrate, Americans are wondering what’s next? Let’s walk through this.
The Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land.
The penalties, individual and employer mandates, or “taxes” are still in play. Although Donald Trump issued an executive order instructing agencies to provide relief from the health care law, and the IRS eased up on rejecting tax filings if line 61 was not completed (attesting one purchased health coverage) this part of the law has not been officially repealed.
Federally funded Medicaid expansion stays put.
Those still on Medicaid, for the time being, will still receive coverage.
Insurance premiums are rising even faster than before.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation: Health insurance premiums on the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces (also called exchanges) are expected to increase faster in 2017 than in previous years.
Less insurance companies will be on the exchanges for the upcoming enrollment period.
With large insurance companies such as Aetna and United HealthCare scaling back, less consumer choices add to the skyrocketing costs. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation: Marketplace insurer participation in states using Healthcare.gov in 2017 ranges from 1 company in Alabama, Alaska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wyoming, to 15 companies in Wisconsin.
Obamacare’s “death spiral” may not come as quickly as anticipated.
If the Affordable Health Care Act continues to receive federal funding and sputters long enough to hit the midterm elections, House majority could switch to the Democrats, allowing them to pass new provisions to maintain its life support.
Unfortunately, we as Americans are in limbo. President Trump with a Republican held House and Senate was expected to successfully repeal and replace Obamacare. However, the American Health Care Act didn’t do that. It provided a life boat for a sinking ship, and many felt it couldn’t provide longevity or attain popularity needed to make it successful.
The Affordable Care Act was designed such that anyone tries to repeal it, the healthcare system implodes. For the GOP to approach this as one would attempt to diffuse a bomb, may be an impossible feat.
However, there may be hope. As both Democrats and some Republicans opposed the replacement for Obamacare, many on both sides dislike the current state of affairs. Our healthcare system is broken and bipartisanly there is much we can agree on. President Trump believes it will take Obamacare exploding before the Democrats come to the negotiating table. Let’s hope this happens before then.