President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in March 2010 after two years of debate and deliberation. It’s been a fixture of our country ever since, but it remains somewhat controversial. The act has been a hot political topic since its conception, and a focus of controversy between Republicans and Democrats.
The ACA is over 1000 pages long, and it is likely that many members of Congress on both sides of the issue were unsure what impact the law would have. In its short lifetime, the act has weathered two Supreme Court cases, and numerous efforts to repeal it entirely.
The Affordable Care Act includes far-reaching provisions that dramatically redefine the power of the federal government to regulate health insurance. No matter what the future holds for this act, it will likely be remembered as the defining act of the Obama administration.
Political Challenges to the Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act was passed in spite of serious controversy in both houses of Congress. As stated before, many lawmakers on both sides of the bill likely did not understand the impact it would have on America. One ardent supporter of the bill famously remarked, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” highlighting the controversy.
Few issues in recent memory have been quite as polarizing as the Affordable Care Act. The act is so identified with the Democratic Party that it has been dubbed Obamacare. Throughout the Presidential election, it was a significant talking point for all the candidates. Hillary Clinton admitted that the plan wasn’t perfect, but said it was her intention to fix it as seamlessly as possible, without disrupting people’s existing coverage.
Donald Trump, meanwhile, said repeatedly that he would repeal the plan entirely on day one of his administration. Then, just a few days after he was elected, he began to backtrack, stating that he would be willing to keep any parts of Obamacare that were working the way they should, and might be open to amending the act, rather than repealing it entirely.
What Could Replace Obamacare?
Whether Trump replaces Obamacare entirely or merely amends it, the question remains: what will the future of healthcare look like? His proposals on the issue have been somewhat vague, but, as a businessman, his main intention is to increase competition between providers. Under the current act, people seeking healthcare are limited to the offerings in their specific area. By eliminating that geographical limitation, Trump intends to provide Americans with more options, thus lowering prices.
Whether or not this will work remains to be seen. In certain states, such as Arizona, competition thrived during the first few years of Obamacare, and prices were low. However, lower prices are a gamble for the insurance companies. Paying for care began costing insurance carriers more than their customers were paying into the plans. Many carriers stopped offering coverage to certain geographic locations.
Whatever happens to the Affordable Care Act, whether it’s repealed and replaced, or merely altered and amended, it will take some time. Even if Trump does take steps to repeal it on “day one” of his administration, his proposals need to be examined and approved by Congress before they can go into effect. In the meantime, the U.S. healthcare system is in a period of uncertainty. Only time will tell what will happen.
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