Will new American Health Care Act ultimately trump Obamacare?

There is a lot of controversy surrounding President Trump’s proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act and many Americans find themselves either on the fence or the edge of their seat.

Hesitation and uncertainty abound as a small number of Republicans — most notably, Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan — attempt to design a new healthcare bill persuasive enough to win more conservative votes, which they desperately need to get the bill through. Without a comprehensive replacement at the ready, it is highly unlikely that the Affordable Care Act can successfully be repealed.

Statistics provided by the Urban Institute
Statistics provided by the Urban Institute

This issue has dominated the media in recent weeks and leads to questions of the motivations for revoking “Obamacare,” as well as the legitimacy of opposing arguments.

According to a 2016 study published by the Washington D.C.-based socio-economic think tank Urban Institute, if Republicans successfully repeal the ACA “The number of uninsured people would rise from 29 million to 59 million in 2019, an increase of approximately 30 million people (103 percent).”

To make matters worse, “The number of uninsured would increase right away” by more than 4 million people. How can such a detrimental risk be justified?

As with any law, particularly those as relatively new as the ACA, signed into law on March 23, 2010, they require a lot of work before they win the approval of the general population and Obamacare was no exception. The numbers are fuzzy and statistics vary from poll to poll, but an educated estimate published by Bloomberg News indicates that at the very least, 10 million Americans have gained insurance through the ACA. The reason this number is significantly smaller than the estimate provided by Urban Institute is because the latter accounts for Americans who would also lose coverage as a result of revoking Medicaid expansions.

While many Americans remain uninsured, finding that insurance is still not affordable for all and who also resent being fined annually as a result of the individual mandate, the issue is far from cut-and-dry. The ACA has multiple facets — such as allowing dependents to retain coverage through their guardian’s plan until 26 years of age, protecting the interests of Americans with pre-existing conditions and giving states the option to expand Medicaid.

Trump claims that many of these well-liked aspects of Obamacare will remain intact, but can we have the good without the bad? Even well-versed opponents of the ACA seem to think not.

In one 2017 article published in the National Review, a conservative publication focusing on political commentary, Kevin Williamson writes, “We have to have an individual mandate because we want a preexisting-coverage mandate. The only way to pay for it is a rule that requires everybody to have insurance; otherwise, economic self-interest ensures that most people have no reason to pay for insurance until they become sick, meaning that they pay no premiums until they have expenses that will far exceed them. An insurance market made up exclusively of sick people is financially unsustainable.”

Being forced to buy insurance or face a fine is one of the key complaints made by consumers in reference to Obamacare, so one would think that mandate would be first thing to go if the ACA were repealed and replaced. Benjy Sarlin says the opposite, however, in an article published by NBC News. Sarlin states that Trump’s American Health Care Act “still retains the basic structure of the ACA, even as its benefits are less generous: Federal dollars to buy insurance; regulations on what that insurance provides; and a requirement that insurers take on customers with pre-existing conditions. Some are labeling it “Obamacare-lite’.”

Whether we agree or disagree about repealing the Affordable Care Act, the newly proposed American Health Care Act is more of the same, just less affordable.