The recent presidential race was nothing if not contentious. One of the many topics under debate is the future of healthcare. When Barack Obama ran for president in 2008, he promised healthcare reform. By 2010 the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), dubbed Obamacare, had passed in both the House of Representatives and The Senate and signed into law.
The major points of reform included mandatory minimum essential health coverage for every U.S. citizen. Additionally, it has elevated minimum standards for coverage. It includes increases to preventive care and women’s health coverage. It has a ban on discriminatory practices such as charging more or denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. It also contains an employer mandate for companies with 50 or more employees. The ACA set up a healthcare marketplace to provide easy access to enrollment, assistance, and affordable coverage all around.
President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to repeal Obamacare in its entirety and replace it with something different. Is this possible? The answer is yes, although it is unlikely.
In order to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, Trump needs to get 60 votes in The Senate. Republicans managed to hold a slim majority in the Senate following the 2016 election season. However, they do not have the 60 needed to strong-arm the vote.
In order to stop the repeal, the Democratic minority in The Senate will almost certainly resort to a filibuster. This, in turn, puts a halt to the repeal. In other words, it is very unlikely that an all-out repeal of Obamacare could take place. This is because new healthcare reform will be in place to replace the ACA.
House Speaker, Paul Ryan, has promoted a replacement plan that mostly keeps with some of the changes Trump noted during his campaign. However, Trump would have to agree to use that plan. This will only be put into place if repealing Obamacare.
Altering the Law
At this point, it is far more likely that Trump and Congress will work to amend Obamacare. Since winning the election, he has already started to back pedal. He is facing questions about what will happen to the tens of millions of people who only have health insurance because of Obamacare.
He has stated that he wants to continue offering benefits such as allowing children to stay on their parents’ policies until the age of 26. He also plans on keeping the ban that discriminates against those with pre-existing conditions.
However, he has also proven himself a fan of deregulation. In turn, keeping with that policy, he wants to boost competition by allowing insurance providers to sell plans across state lines. Another change he proposes implementing tax-free or tax-deductible savings accounts. These will allow families to better control medical costs. He has stated that he wants to remove the mandate to purchase insurance. Instead, he encourages citizens to insure themselves by offering them tax breaks.
Through legislation and regulations, Trump could significantly alter the fabric of the existing law to better suit his agenda. According to an analysis conducted by the Commonwealth Fund, however, Trump’s current plan would likely cause rates of uninsured citizens to rise dramatically, along with government costs.