Anyone paying attention to government, politics, and current events over the last decade knows about the inaction of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), in 2010. The Obama administration and a democratic Congress proposed and promoted it. After all, the common name for the ACA is Obamacare.
However, there is some contention about whether the basis for Obamacare is actually Republican. Was it based on an introduction of a Republican-sponsored bill from the 1990’s? However, it was never voted on? Was it based on principles adopted by the right-wing think tank, the Heritage Foundation?
Republicans have strongly denied that they had anything to do with Obamacare. For the most part, the party strongly opposes the ACA. However, because attempts to reform healthcare have gone on for decades, it is only natural that when the bill is eventually adopted, it would draw from both Democratic and Republican sources. What is the truth? Here is what you need to know.
Obama Calls Out Republicans
In a 2015 speech marking the fifth anniversary of Obamacare, President Obama praised the success of the ACA. He noted that none of the dire proclamations issued by opponents early on, such as death panels, came to pass. He then stated that the reason Republicans had such a difficult time drafting an alternative to Obamacare is that Republican ideas based the ACA.
He specifically mentioned the inclusion of “conservative, market-based principles”, which he attributed to the Heritage Foundation and Republican members of Congress. This statement raised the fury of both the Heritage Foundation and Republicans in general. Is it true?
The Heritage Foundation
The goal of the Heritage Foundation is to create and promote policies, keeping with conservative Republican ideals. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the organization took offense to President Obama’s claims that their ideas based the ACA. The Heritage Foundation supports free enterprise, limited government, and individual freedom, among other things.
The mandates and government regulations imposed by the ACA hardly fit their ideology. This is so, even if certain aspects of Obamacare, like the drive to reduce healthcare spending and deficit, are kept with conservative Republican ideals.
The Chafee Bill
Introduced in 1993 by Senator John Chafee (R-RI), the Health Equity and Access Reform Today (HEART) notable Republican senators supported the bill, including Bob Dole (Minority Leader at the time), Orrin Hatch, and others. It contained some of the same major features as the ACA, such as an individual mandate, standardized benefits, and a ban on denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions, etc.
It did not include many of the provisions featured in the ACA, however, such as Medicaid expansion and the employer mandate. The Chafee Bill required employers offer insurance, but not to pay for it. The Chafee Bill also did not plan for how the proposed reform would be financed.
Although Obamacare draws some inspiration from Heritage Foundation ideals and the Chafee Bill, it is important to note that it also expands and adds to those ideas. This is in many ways that are far more left-leaning. In addition, conservative Republicans largely opposed the Chafee Bill when it was introduced. Perhaps this is why it never made it to the voting stage in the first place.
To say that Republican ideas influenced the ACE is fair. However, attributing the ACA to Republicans is a stretch. Introduced by a Democratic president and passed by a Democratic Congress, made it more Democratic than Republican.