President-elect Donald Trump takes office in less than two weeks, so what exactly do Mr. Trump and Republicans plan to do with Obamacare, also known as the ACA (Affordable Care Act)? Will Obamacare be completely repealed, or will parts of it be kept?
In the first installment of a new series, “Trump & Obamacare,” the UMHS Endeavour examines what the new administration will do to reform the U.S. health-care system. Future installments will focus on what this means for doctors and medical students.
We look at highlights from recent press reports about what President-elect Trump and Republicans plan to do with Obamacare.
Is Obamacare Toast? Repeal Could Cost $350B
Obamacare has been criticized for its rising monthly premiums and huge deductibles. When President-elect Trump met with President Obama shortly after the election, there was talk of preserving certain aspects of Obamacare, such as not allowing insurance companies to deny coverage of pre-existing conditions. Mr. Trump said at the time he liked the provision allowing children to remain on their parents’ health plans until age 26.
Although President Obama asked congressional Democrats to continue fighting for Obamacare on January 4, 2017, what will happen after Mr. Trump takes office on January 20th is anyone’s guess.
The national nonprofit Planned Parenthood, criticized by conservatives for offering abortion services, will be “defunded,” House speaker Paul Ryan announced on January 5, 2017, CNN reported. Proponents of Planned Parenthood argue the nonprofit offers a number of vital health care services to women in medically underserved areas, including breast and cervical cancer screening.
CNBC and other media outlets reported the full cost of Obamacare repeal could run approximately $350 billion. One of the most provocative posts about repealing Obamacare is a CNBC op-ed “Here’s what the GOP will rip out of Obamacare to get a deal”.
Below are highlights from the post, which blasts both Republicans and Democrats:
“The status quo is a mess,” CNBC’s Jake Novak wrote. ”Despite all kinds of promises from both sides, Democrats and Republicans in Washington have never really gone to the bargaining table on Obamacare. That’s a disgrace because this is a law that affects all of us in the most intimate of ways. Instead of coming to a compromise deal that most of American voters would accept, President Obama and the Democrats used their super majority in Congress from 2009-2011 to enact the existing ACA. And when the Republicans took control of the House in 2011 and the whole of Congress in 2015, all we saw from their side was repeal vote after repeal vote.”
Mr. Novak said President-elect Trump will want to come to a deal shortly after taking office “or else his party will own all the bad news and bad health care cost realities to come.”
What Parts of Obamacare Will Remain?
The CNBC op-ed compares provisions of the ACA in two categories: Those with the best chance of being spared versus those that will certainly go.
The “Cadillac Tax,” a 40 percent levy on premium employer-sponsored health plans, will likely be removed. Mr. Novak argues that the tax has been most unpopular with labor unions since health-care benefits are often the greatest asset of negotiated contracts.
He says the tax penalty for the individual mandate—forcing people to pay a penalty on tax returns for not having insurance—will also go. Tax credits “instead of subsidies” may be created for those who can’t afford current premiums.
Mr. Novak predicts President-elect Trump will keep the provision forcing insurance companies to cover Americans with preexisting conditions.
“Based on his own statements, and because he’s not politically suicidal, Trump will want to keep that coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions no matter what,” Mr. Novak writes. “Democrats will pretend that he won’t be able to do that without the individual mandate and the tax penalties, but that argument is weakened by the fact that the mandate and the penalties aren’t covering the costs right now. Money is going to have to come from somewhere to make up for this gap.”
GOP Replacement for Obamacare?
Republicans have given few specifics about what they will replace Obamacare with, but experts believe it will be crucial for the GOP to come up with a viable alternative.
A post on MedicalXpress.com quoted top GOP officials about plans to replace Obamacare.
“We’ve got to fix this by replacing it with something better. In that transition, we want to make sure we don’t pull the rug out from anybody,” House speaker Paul Ryan told the press.
MedicalXpress.com said Republican officials were looking at a six-month timeline.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence gave reporters at a news conference no specifics about a replacement.
Mr. Pence would only say “the architecture of the replacement of Obamacare will come together, as it should, through the legislative process in the weeks and months ahead.”
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