With a new administration comes many changes, and the new prevailing wind is repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
It’s been a Republican talking point for years, picking at flaws and declaring intention to repeal if a conservative president enters office. Now that Donald Trump has become President Elect, that goal will become a reality, and Republican lawmakers have already begun the dismantling process before he’s even taken office.
Despite Trump’s expressed intent to repeal and replace ACA with a Republican-designed healthcare plan, his fellow Republicans are opting to repeal the Affordable Care Act with no replacement ready. Other than vague assurances, no solid timescale has been announced, nor a model for the plan.
With no plan providing similar coverages as ACA, this means that for a multitude of Americans healthcare coverage will revert to the old ways, in which expensive ailments like chronic conditions or even cancer disqualify a person from receiving coverage. While seemingly hyperbolic, there are people who will die because they will be barred from healthcare when ACA is repealed, simply because they cannot pay.
ACA has not been without controversy over its lifetime, with some experiencing rising rates from their insurance providers. Neither has coverage been perfect, with others reporting diminished range along with higher costs. These points are well-taken, and represent significant downsides to ACA as it exists and functions today.
But the answer to these reasonable criticisms is to work with it and improve, not repeal and replace. Starting from the ground up will mean that a new plan will have to go through similar growing pains as ACA. Since the quantifiable positives are well-liked non-partisanly – cheaper bills for poorer patients, expanded coverage, and insurance for those with pre-existing conditions – it is unintuitive to throw the metaphoric baby out with the bathwater by repealing and replacing with a plan embodying similar goals. Even with its flaws, the Affordable Care Act has provided health insurance to many who require lifesaving healthcare. That’s nothing minor, and certainly is something to take into consideration when considering repealing.
As it appears more and more like there is no replacement plan forthcoming from Republicans, this means that United States healthcare will take a major step back, and an unnecessary one at that. Doing so poses a significant risk to the wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of Americans, as it will revert the ‘uninsurable’ to bankruptcy-inducing bills and no healthcare access. Repealing ACA is at best unnecessary, and at worst a major step backwards, highlighting yet again the sorry state of US healthcare in comparison to every other economic peer country.