Few focal points of the Republican presidential cycle stood out with as much singularity and clarity as the promise to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, a rallying cry for much of the Trump electorate, regardless of class, race or gender. Yet, as several articles point out, many of these voters are enrolled in Obamacare and rely on its coverage for insurance — how did this dissonance aide in the election of Donald Trump?
For many, as this highlights, the popular disdain for Obamacare, or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, can be observed as a result of partisan branding (accidentally) and a simple lack of information as to what is a part of the Affordable Care Act or what the consequences of its repeal will really entail. Indeed, the heavy politicization and opaque rhetoric surrounding its repeal and its replacement, without definitive policy outlines for either step, eliminated any bipartisan steps to its amendment or expansion in any form.
As a symbol of this politicization of the program, according to a CNBC poll that surveyed two sample groups, 40 percent of subjects opposed “Obamacare,” while 37 percent of the group opposed the “Affordable Care Act.” Indeed, the moniker and the direct association with Obama and his legacy works to dispel many voters, who support specific policies under the program, but when prompted about the negatively connoted “Obamacare” were quick to decry its continuation.
Similarly, a limit on how much the American electorate really knows about what Obamacare even entails and the benefits that they receive as enrollees — a symptom of what is commonly referred to as the “submerged state,” in which American citizens fail to understand what the government actually provides them, while complaining that government is too large despite their demand for its benefits and welfare — is another barrier to garnering support. For example, the coverage of prevalent preexisting-conditions or the fact that young adults can stay on the plans of their parents until age 26 are two facts that often go forgotten in the pushback by the Republican base against Obamacare.
However, there are a few inarguable facts that must be realized in this debate. To begin, 23.5 million people gained insurance with the genesis of Obamacare, combining the results from insurance marketplaces with the direct impact of Medicaid expansion. Additionally, health insurance premiums, while still rising, have risen at dramatically slower rates since the advent of Obamacare – for example, in the individual marketplace, the 9.9 percent growth rate of 2008 has slowed to a 3.6 percent increase in insurance premium cost in 2016.
It also enforced the elimination of discrimination based on gender, as well as enforcing a mental health parity law in permanence, meaning that mental illness must be covered and treated the same way as physical health is. For many who support the notion of repeal and replace for Obamacare, the realization of just how much coverage will be lost, how many people will lose insurance and how much progress will be reversed can be statistically demonstrated.
To be sure, however, the ACA has its flaws when viewed from the left or the right. For some, instead of tearing down a failing, over-complicated and bloated system, the ACA further ingrains that system. However, through the steady, promising growth of its marketplace and regulations, the ACA makes the United States’ previous health care system more tolerable, allowing it to stay afloat. Moreover, due to the actions of a handful of the 2009 Democratic majority caucus’ most conservative members, it does not contain a public option, failing to truly accomplish health care as a universal right. The ACA is not what it should be: universal health care for all. If anything, the ACA has been left-leaning, but hardly a liberal/progressive attempt to insure all Americans.
However, getting down to brass tacks, the repeal of the ACA will result in the loss of insurance for anywhere between 10 and 20 million Americans. Repeal and replacement of the ACA by an extremely right-wing Congress will not work, as the ACA is the most conservative version of subsidized health care that could feasibly function. The repeal of the ACA is irresponsible, amoral and a result of eight years of bad politics, manipulative branding and misinformation stemming from the Republican party — a partisan discord that will result in the removal of coverage for millions.
TOE THE LINE examines issues from two different sides. Both Penn Democrats and College Republicans argue why their collective positions on major political issues is best for the country.
ERIN FARRELL is a College sophomore and the Penn Dems Communication Director. She is a political science and communications major.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.