Republican's Plan To Repeal Obamacare Part Three

Introducing our newest contributor, Joe Melisi. who focuses mainly on the environment, healthcare, and inequality. You can follow him on Twitter here.

You’re probably not aware of it, but the GOP are prepared to take another devious crack at repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The nation’s mobilization against the previous attempts to repeal the reforms President Obama implemented during his presidency is the epitome of why we must always fight back and keep our head on a swivel. 

Just when we thought efforts to repeal the ACA were dead, they’d come right back with a more egregious plan. And, just when we thought they weren’t daft enough to fight that battle a third time, they come back with the same plan, but different tactics. 

Let me preface my arguments with a recognition that our current health care system and the unaffordability of insurance is still a very real problem. The ACA addressed critical issues in regards to access and affordability for health coverage for the nation, but it didn’t solve them all. The elimination of the underwriting process and the added protections for pre-existing conditions, on top of the expansion of Medicaid and subsidies for low-income families increased coverage for ~20 million people.

So what is in the GOP’s plan to repeal the ACA?

Despite polls that showing the majority of Americans believing the government is responsible for ensuring health coverage, they’ve become even more brazen with a proposal that would include all of the detrimental policies of the Graham-Cassidy bill and worse. 

This plan includes cuts to the Medicaid expansion and requirements to funnel money to private insurance companies, exemptions from required coverage allowing insurers to market substandard plans, and the expansion of health care savings accounts--a tax shelter that is typically only afforded by the affluent. And, of course, the repeal of protections for pre-existing conditions that would leave millions of Americans with insurmountable health insurance costs, or worse, with no access to health insurance at all. You may not have a pre-existing condition now, but when you’re 65+ and statistically more likely to have a pre-existing condition, you will be happy to have these protections in place. 

The repeal plan is not yet in the lime-light, so no one is we’re not entirely sure how the chips will fall or how moderate Republicans will position themselves. But, we’ll likely be relying on the same familiar faces of Sen. McCain, Murkowski, or Collins to protect our health care. With that said, it is important that we continue to remind ourselves, our friends, and our families that this fight is never ending. 

The Republican disdain for the ACA is even more egregious then their plan in the legislature. Twenty conservative states have sued the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The Trump administration has thrown its support behind the lawsuit, which would remove protections for pre-existing conditions and claim parts of the ACA are unconstitutional. 

Nicholas Bagley, a University of Michigan law professor and former lawyer at the Department of Justice, posted a synopsis of the states’ argument:

“In their complaint, the states point out (rightly) that the Supreme Court upheld the ACA in NFIB v. Sebelius only because the individual mandate was a tax and (rightly) that Congress has now repealed the penalty for going without insurance. As the states see it, the freestanding requirement to get insurance, which is still on the books, is therefore unconstitutional. Because it’s unconstitutional, the courts must invalidate the entire ACA—lock, stock, and barrel.”

Bagley describes the argument as feeble but that the“The biggest risk, instead, is that the litigation will further erode the norm that the executive branch must respect, enforce, and defend duly enacted statutes.”

Republicans have proven time and time again that they cannot be trusted to protect our nation’s health care, and even worse, would prefer we revert to the discriminatory policies prior to the passage of the ACA. 

Paul Krugman, columnist for the New York Times explains it perfectly:

“On the surface, these stories may seem contradictory. Expanding health coverage is a winning issue for Democrats; trying to take it away is a losing issue for Republicans. Why would the G.O.P. want to keep charging into that buzz saw?

But the growing popularity of key parts of Obamacare is precisely the reason Republicans are highly likely to make a last-ditch effort to kill the A.C.A. For them, it’s now or never.”

Success for the Republicans would be a massive step backwards for our Nation’s healthcare and protections for consumers. 

And so in the spirit of Blake’s Take, here is mine:

  • Offer a Medicaid buy in option in the state marketplaces

Especially if there is only one insurer offering a plan. If the power of private enterprise (for which I am a supporter of) is superior, then allow it to compete against a public option and see which satisfies the most health care consumers.

  • Maintain protections for pre-existing conditions

We cannot be a nation that views health care as a privilege versus a right for everyone to indulge in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There are other ways to reduce costs.

  • Maintain the requirements for insurers to include certain coverages

The current proposal would allow insurance companies to market deceiving health care plans, like insurance that wouldn’t cover foot procedures. Sound inconspicuous right? Well, when you consider how many are plagued with diabetes and have foot conditions, it becomes abundantly clear where the goals of the insurance companies lie--in profits. 

Men and women will have kids, teenagers will experience acne, stress will cause mental illness, our nation’s lifestyles will breed obese populations, and people will become addicted. We have to accept that the people who need healthcare the most cannot be shoved aside like lepers and excluded from the benefits of affordable health insurance because companies want to minimize risk and maximize profits. 


About the author, Joe Melisi:

Joe recently moved to Tucson, AZ with his fiancée who accepted a postdoctoral fellowship with the University Of Arizona College Of Medicine. Before moving, Joe was the Executive Director at the Edgar County Farm Bureau where he advocated for the farmers of Illinois. 

In his free time, Joe served as a legislative consultant to the Science Policy Group at the University of Illinois, helping graduate scientists understand the legislative process, interact with legislators, and lobby on behalf of science policy.

Joe hopes to stay involved in the political arena as he searches for new opportunities in Tucson.

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