On March 6, Republicans in the House of Representatives released their proposal for a replacement to the Affordable Care Act. There was immediate outrage from both sides of the aisle.
There are about three to four key changes from the Affordable Care Act in the proposed bill. The first change would remove the controversial tax penalties for people who do not purchase health insurance. In its place, Republicans are proposing that if an individual’s insurance lapses, they could face up to a 30 percent penalty from insurers. The second change would remove the requirement of larger businesses to offer coverage to their full time employees. Lastly, the bill would keep the Medicaid expansion in the original Affordable Care Act for two years, before beginning the roll back of Medicaid. The bill would keep the popular “pre-existing conditions” clause, the ban on lifetime coverage caps, and the allowing of young people to remain on their parent’s healthcare plan until they are 26.
Understandably so, when the House Republicans publicly released their plan for a replacement, Democrats were in an uproar. New Jersey senator Cory Booker released a video on Facebook, outlining three simple faults he sees in the bill: “1. This bill will make health care coverage more expensive. 2. It provides worse coverage. 3. It covers fewer people.” Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, claimed on his Facebook page that “Republicans decried individual mandate. Their bill has a mandate. Republicans decried tax credits. Their bill includes tax credits. Republicans decried Medicaid expansion. Their bill keeps it.”
Interestingly enough, many big name Republicans are against it for reasons similar to Murphy’s. Four Republican senators drafted a letter denouncing the draft of the bill they saw on Monday for the eventual rollback of Medicaid. Three other Republican senators, including Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, also expressed concerns about the bill. One House Republican called the proposal “Obamacare 2.0,” and yet another described it as “Obamacare Lite.”
People all over are already criticizing the sloppiness of the bill and its process of rollout. Senator Booker dubbed the bill “Trumpcare” in an attempt to link the failures of the legislation to President Trump, much in the same fashion that Republicans dubbed the Affordable Care Act “Obamacare.” Online, the term “Republicare” has cropped up for the same reasons.
All of this begs the question: what have Republicans been doing the past seven years? “Repeal and replace” became the moniker for what to do with the Affordable Care Act amongst the crowded Republican presidential field in 2016. The Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010 and upheld in 2012. Why do Republicans not already have a viable replacement for the Affordable Care Act? They clearly have not demonstrated to the American people that they have done their jobs.
Still, some House Republicans are defending the messy bill. Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah ludicrously stated that low-income Americans would have to choose between purchasing an iPhone and purchasing health insurance. Let’s ignore the fact that this is 2017. Let’s ignore the fact that this statement portrays poor people as the enemy. The Declaration of Independence states that everyone has a right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The Declaration is clear: every living human has the right to life. People shouldn’t be forced to choose their health and safety over their liberty and pursuit of happiness.
No one is saying that there is an easy solution to the healthcare dispute. If it were easy, it would not even be up for debate. The Affordable Care Act has many faults, but right now, the Republican plan does not seem any better.