Healthcare

Obamacare Repeal Begins

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Meeting on Capitol Hill, Getty Images

January GOP Caucus meeting. (Bloomberg, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

by Lil Tuttle

On January 11, the Senate approved “a budget resolution that Republicans will use as a vehicle to speed through repeal of the Affordable Care Act,” reported USA Today.  “House leaders plan to take it up Friday.” With this resolution in place, Obamacare repeal begins.

Obamacare supporters claim about 20 million people, or roughly 7% of the U.S. population, are currently covered by ACA plans, but that number is contested by the GOP Senate, which put out this 50 second video-infographic:

In the GOP House’s Jan 9th weekly address posted at Facebook, Congresswoman Diane Black notes that Obamacare is already failing:

In 73 of 95 U.S. counties, people have only one insurer to choose from. That’s not a marketplace.  That’s a monopoly.

As with all monopolies, prices have continued to rise under ACA while benefits fell. What is not widely publicized is that 7.5 million taxpayers (about 6% of all taxpayers) chose to pay the penalty on their taxes rather than enroll in an ACA plan—a number “well in excess of original projections by officials,” according to CNBC.

The Daily Signal provided this all-too-typical example of costs before and after ACA.   Prior to ACA, Ross Schriftman had a Blue Cross insurance policy that cost him $218 per month with a $5,000 deductible.  In 2017, his ACA policy is costing him $784 per month with a $6,500 deductible.

Mr. Schriftman isn’t alone. Studies by RAND Corp, Kaiser Family Foundation, and the American Action Forum, reports the Washington Examiner, confirm that a majority of ACA’s current enrollees had reliable health insurance coverage before ACA was enacted.

  • Between 57% (Kaiser) and 75% (AAF) of ACA enrollees were insured before ACA, but lost that insurance when ACA forced private plan cancellations. As with Mr. Schriftman, the ACA law gave these enrollees no other choice.
  • Nearly 6 million ACA enrollees lost their employer-sponsored coverage due to ACA (RAND).
  • An estimated 4.9 million enrollees are welfare-subsidized Medicaid enrollees who were already eligible, but had not signed up, for Medicaid before ACA was enacted.

 

Others report that ACA has put rural hospitals out of business “at the rate of one a month,” leaving Americans in rural areas in a health care availability crisis.

 

A MESSY PROCESS

Replacing Obamacare is a top priority of the incoming administration, as Vice President-elect Mike Pence reaffirmed following a January meeting with the GOP Caucus on Capitol Hill.  Speaker Ryan has since told the New York Times, “It is our goal to bring it all together concurrently.

The new Congress is working to ensure there is a “stable transition period so that no one has the rug pulled out from under them,” says Congresswoman Black.

The ACA’s replacement will have decidedly market-oriented features, such as giving people more control over their own health care, allowing insurance purchases across state lines, and maintaining protections for people with preexisting conditions.

A look at Trump’s Health and Human Services nominee, Rep. [Dr.] Tom Price, suggests replacement legislation is more developed than media coverage indicates. Rep Price, the House Budget Committee Chairman and an orthopedic surgeon, “has for years been refining his own detailed plan,” reported the Washington Examiner, adding that “Price’s plan was very similar to the House Republican plan promoted by [Speaker Paul] Ryan.”  And in an interview on January 11, Senator Rand Paul confirmed to Newsmax that Republicans already have “several dozen bills that most of us have agreed to.”

The replacement process could be messy. But when has cleaning up disasters, whether they are trashed dorm rooms or legislative catastrophes such as ACA, not been a messy process?