What’s Left, Being Right: Repealing Obamacare

A Dangerous Impact

James Goldin, Class of 2018

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, was voted for repeal earlier this month. This marks the fourth time that the Republican-dominated House has voted for repeal. Unsurprisingly, this legislation has no chance of passing with President Obama still in office, as he has already vowed to veto it if it ever reaches his desk. However, the fact that such animosity exist towards a healthcare reform bill that has expanded coverage to 7.3 million Americans who didn’t have any form of insurance previously is quite a telling conundrum.

20 million people, including the 7.3 million mentioned above, have been registered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to the New England Journal of Medicine. In 2009, the American Journal of Public Health estimated that 45,000 completely preventable deaths were due to lack of widespread insurance. In a 2007 study done by The American Journal of Public Medicine, 62.1 percent of filers for bankruptcies claimed high medical expenses. Yet disregarding all the problems, Republicans still clamor to repeal the ACA. The ramifications of such a repeal, though, would be a disastrous and serious blow to the fundamental tenet of the equality of health care regardless of whether you have enough money.

The most immediate and dangerous impact would be the loss of healthcare for 7.3 million Americans. These families, a disproportionate number of whom are black, hispanic or part of  other minority groups, often live in that awkward in-between where they are not wealthy enough to afford any form of private insurance, with its outrageous premiums, and not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. Any person who fell into this category had their backs to the wall, but the ACA provided a vital relief to these folks who desperately needed help. Without the ACA, these people would be one injury away from total financial ruin, not to mention the possibility of worsening injury or mortality due to inability to pay for certain care.

Even those who were not originally without insurance would be affected by the repeal of the ACA. Individuals with pre-existing conditions before the implementation of the healthcare reform often had to buy exuberantly high priced insurance or were outright barred by certain insurance companies from purchasing insurance. The ACA made it illegal for insurance companies to deny healthcare coverage to the aforementioned individuals. It’s not like these companies can’t afford to pay for the healthcare needs of those individuals with pre-existing conditions. Health insurance premiums are increasing at exponential rates for all groups. Companies like Medtronic have double the annual gross profit of Apple, and insurance, pharmaceutical and health product lobbyists pumped five billion dollars into lobbying efforts from 1998 to 2014. Pure greed and desire for profit drive many aspects of the American health care system. The ACA was the first step in a long time that tried to seriously combat this.

If Republicans want to repeal the ACA, they need to realize that they are jeopardizing the healthcare of millions of Americans. They would be forcing individuals to choose between having enough money for food or going to the doctor. They need to know that they will be playing a part in thousands of preventable deaths that occur every year because many Americans can’t afford insurance. They need to know that they have undermined one of the most significant pieces of healthcare reform that has benefitted millions of Americans for no other reason than pure partisanship. They need to know not to repeal.

An Old Debate

Olivia Detato, Class of 2017

As of February 3, the House of Representatives has voted to completely repeal the Affordable Care Act –  more commonly known as Obamacare – four times. This fourth vote should not come as a surprise because the House has voted almost 60 times to undermine or repeal certain parts of the new healthcare law since 2011. 

The most recent time that the House voted, they included a framework to replace the Affordable Healthcare Act. The only thing missing was the date when this new framework would be complete and implemented. It is currently undecided as to when the repeal measure will undergo a Senate vote. This House majority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) is quoted as saying, “The law is a disaster.” McCarthy is optimistic that the Senate will vote affirmatively to repeal the law.

Just as Republicans stand united in their affirm to repeal the law, Democrats stand equally as united in wanting to keep it in place. In his State of the Union Address in January, President Obama stated that he would thwart any attempt at repealing Obamacare, meaning that he is willing to use his veto power while in office.

Obamacare has been criticized for eliminating competition between insurance companies and driving up prices. It has also been criticized for reducing hospital reimbursements. Currently there is a shortage of nurses and nursing teachers. With insecurity facing the future of healthcare, many choose not to enter the field. Additionally, the devastating low starting salaries of novice doctors is a blow to those graduating from medical school with impending debt.

At its onset, many feared that Obamacare would create a system that mirrors that of Canada and the United Kingdom in which those needing surgery face a long waiting list of patients and the government decides when a citizen should receive care.

We see that this has not happened. Mass chaos has not ensued; people are still able to receive the best care that is offered and now people with preexisting health conditions won’t be turned away. It seems counterintuitive to repeal a system that has not even been fully and totally implemented yet. However, many would argue that this is exactly why now is the best time to repeal it.

Republicans have not wavered from their resolve to repeal the law since it was first implemented, yet no one has proposed a fair alternative. Obamacare is optional and those that choose to opt out of the healthcare cover are not so much affected by the law. Many that had pre-existing coverage did in fact opt out of Obamacare. Obamacare strictly affects the majority of people that did not have coverage in the United States. It is sad to admit that politics are ruling this situation instead of the health and well-being of many Americans. And yet it seems to be the norm nowadays, with Obamacare as just one stark example of this.

It seems that the American public is growing tired of the push back and forth between Democrats and Republicans regarding Obamacare. I see this as an attempt to pander their rigid constituents instead of focusing on the majority of moderates that need health care. Additionally, each party is only focused on advancing their own agenda instead of creating the best and most easily accessible healthcare system for the majority of Americans. 

Each healthcare system has its pluses and minuses; we find that in America, our biggest downside is that our policymakers can’t even agree on a policy to implement. As Americans grow more disillusioned with the system, lawmakers are heating up their fight for the system that they favor. Unfortunately, it appears that most lawmakers don’t even know what they actually want. With no plan, it is no wonder that this debate is getting old in the eyes of the American public.