The Republican Party’s quest to wipe away the legacy of the country’s first African American president has manifested on several fronts in recent months, including reversing his policy on Cuba, withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, elimination of key environmental regulations, green-lighting the Keystone XL and Dakota (Standing Rock Sioux) pipelines, and the list goes on.
But perhaps nothing is more fervently sought by the current President and his party than the repeal of former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement: the Affordable Care Act.
To say the party is obsessed with this effort would be a gross understatement. The House alone, in recent years, has voted more than 60 times to repeal or alter the legislation and, according to some estimates, wasted more than 87 million taxpayer dollars on the effort.
Beyond squandering millions, Republicans repeatedly lie about the viability of the Affordable Care Act, as well as how it was scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Republican officials know full well why Affordable Care enrollment fell short of the CBO estimate—primarily because the estimate was based on nationwide expansion of Medicaid that many Republican governors refused to accept for their citizens, even though a large percent of the residents in many of their states are in desperate need of coverage.
It was formerly unimaginable that Governors would rather their constituents lack healthcare coverage than expand Medicaid with 100 percent federal reimbursement. Many believe it was a spiteful, coordinated effort to cripple a federal policy, knowing they were risking lives in the process. Despite this obfuscation, the CBO has stated again and again that the insurance markets are “NOT COLLAPSING.”
There is little question the African American community will be most severely impacted by repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
With control of congress and the presidency, Republicans are poised to work their will, while many Americans are fighting to keep their health coverage and, in many instances, for their very lives.
Last month, members of the House of Representatives and President Trump celebrated the passage of repeal legislation. The Senate is preparing to do the same. According to the CBO, under the House bill, 23 million Americans will lose their coverage, while the initial CBO scoring of the Senate bill indicated 22 million Americans will lose coverage. California Senator Kamala Harris aptly summed these efforts up: “We need to stop saying folks are going to lose their health care if the GOP repeal bill passes. We’re not losing it: They’re taking it away.”
Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell sought to pass the bill expeditiously but met resistance from members of his own caucus. He now appears to be slow-dragging toward a vote as he twists arms in his quest for “yes” votes.
The Senate’s latest version of the bill would allow cheaper, stripped-down healthcare plans that are not Obamacare compliant and do not cover essential health benefits to appease conservatives. It includes $45 billion in opioid addiction funding to win moderates and $70 billion more for states ($182 billion total) to stabilize the insurance market and help lower income Americans pay for coverage. It also incorporates health savings accounts, extends two of the Affordable Care Act taxes on wealthy, and keeps $700 billion in cuts to Medicaid. These cuts will severely affect low-income Americans and 1.4 million people in nursing homes; one in five Americans is covered by Medicaid. The revised Senate bill also allows some insurers to not cover pre-existing conditions.