The Republican Party is moving swiftly to repeal President Barack Obama’s legacy-defining law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is also colorfully known as Obamacare. Obama has previously stated he likes the ACA’s nickname. Republican legislators like to pretend they were elected with a mandate by the American people to enact change, but the changes they are attempting to bring to the health insurance systems of the United States are disliked by a heavy majority of the electorate. This is to say nothing of insurance companies who are almost universally against the Republican’s plan of dismantling the legislation – not because insurance companies care about their customers, but because it is going to dramatically impact their profits.
Rather than moving to entirely repeal the entire ACA, Republicans instead voted in the Senate to dismantle the ACA’s funding mechanisms. They took this line of action because it was legislatively impossible to repeal the entire law. The Republican Party only required a simple Senate majority of 50 votes to gut the ACA’s funding, and would have needed 60 votes to pursue an outright repeal. While Republicans hold a slim majority in the Senate, they’ve never been able to muster the votes they required to accomplish a repeal. This point was echoed by Devon Herrick of the National Center for Policy Analysis who said, “By using this strategy, they can change the law with a simple majority, but only those elements that affect money.”
Health insurers are outraged at the Republican’s tactics because they are not stripping over 20 million Americans of their ability to have health insurance. Nor through their repeal have they made it not illegal for health insurance companies to drop a customer if they have a preexisting condition. Nor are they able to drop a customer if they reach an arbitrary amount of money spent for their care. This all boils down to the insurance companies slated to lose billions of dollars in revenue, as they will be required to pay the cost differences which will no longer be paid by the Federal government’s subsidies.
Since the ACA’s inception Republicans have vowed to “repeal and replace” the law, but even after years of posturing they have yet to present a semblance of a plan as to what they will offer as a replacement. William Dow of UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health said, “If they remove the subsidies and lower the individual mandate tax penalty to zero, it could lead the individual market to unravel.”
Republicans are setting up the system to fail. As they are now the party in power they will have nobody to blame but themselves. Not that they were not to blame the entire time previously, but now that they have won majorities in the House and Senate along with the presidency they have lost their prized scapegoat.
If there is not a penalty issued by the government for citizens not holding health insurance, this will lead to millions of Americans dropping minimum coverage which will trigger a series of dominoes known as “adverse selection.” This means there will more sick people than healthy people who are carrying health insurance. The end result will inevitably be health insurers who are forced to raise their premiums when the entire Republican proposition has been to reduce costs. However, the concept of reducing costs has always been lip service and Republicans know this. They are merely hoping the American public is too misinformed to pay attention to the nuances of their latest bout of villainy.
Lou Colagiovanni is an investigative journalist living in Las Vegas who specializes in politics and crime. His work has been highlighted all over the world and he is regularly featured on television and radio.