THE DEATH OF AN IDEAL BUT FAR-FETCHED DREAM
According to the Trump Administration’s First 100-day plan, the Affordable Care Act is on its way out of the nation’s legislature.
The difficulty that former President Obama had passing his attempt at health care reform seemed to forecast its implementation. The rollout of the plan started in 2013 and was immediately fraught with communication breakdowns and server failures; years later, premiums are still significantly more expensive than their advertised price tags. In late 2016, Obama recognized the plan was experiencing “growing pains,” but considering that NBC reports one in two Americans disapprove of the ACA, its problems appear to run deeper than that alone.
Some liberals want to respond to the ongoing health care crisis by further entrenching it in government action, turning America into a single-payer universal health care system that would raise income taxes across every demographic at a minimum of 20 percent. Conservatives see government interference as the source of Obamacare’s primary failures and, as they control both chambers of Congress, are better positioned to act and significantly reduce federal oversight.
In the absence of a publicly announced replacement plan, Americans are faced with not knowing how they will access lifesaving health care services. Jan. 31 was likely the last open enrollment deadline for Obamacare, and anyone who enrolled or renewed should remain covered through the end of 2017. What comes next is a point of conjecture.
Significant bipartisan support exists for keeping some mandates of the ACA. Coverage for preexisting conditions ranks at the top of this list, as many constituents have appealed to their state representatives about how this element ensured coverage for life-threatening illnesses—but this is also part of what made premiums so expensive.
Obamacare enforced a fee for people who chose not to enroll, but it was not costly enough to incentivize Millennial Americans into buying premiums they couldn’t afford and didn’t need. “The more young and healthy people like you who do the smart thing and sign up, the better it’s going to work for everyone,” Obama said to a crowd of college students last October after noting that the 70 percent uninsured rate among those aged 18 to 35 was partially responsible for high insurance premiums.
The Trump campaign promised to target a problem Obamacare was unable to: reducing the cost of medication and hospital care. As long as pharmaceutical companies are allowed to chose how they price prescriptions—with some costing upwards of $1,000—insurance companies have a higher burden to bear, and they pass the cost onto the customers.
Legislation passed under the Bush Administration waived the right to negotiate drug prices in bulk deals for massive systems like Medicare. “There’s very little bidding on drugs,” Trump said at a press conference in early January. “We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world, and yet we don’t bid properly.” However, after meeting with pharmaceutical representatives on Jan. 31, Trump claimed further regulation would actually hurt small businesses.
Executive action has already begun dismantling the structures of the ACA. Whatever replaces it will be hard pressed to solve its central challenges—including those that have plagued all American health care plans in the decades prior to the Obama Administration.