Justin Norris | Staff Writer
J. Scott Applewhite | Associated Press
President Donald Trump is making headlines for restarting efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the piece of legislation informally known as Obamacare. His administration is supporting a lawsuit that argues the entire Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.
Democrats and Republicans alike are confused by his decision to circle back to this issue. The challenge of repealing the Affordable Care Act is finding a viable alternative that accomplishes three key objectives: expands coverage, cuts costs and keeps the popular aspects of the law in place. The GOP tried numerous times to repeal Obamacare in 2017, but voters overwhelmingly objected to the plans. Many Americans came to the defense of the law when they saw projections that the Republicans’ alternatives would leave tens of millions more people uninsured or increase overall costs.
One of the Republicans’ major talking points in the 2018 midterm elections was their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. However, after witnessing the Democrats swing 40 House of Representative seats, Republicans ditched the health care issue. The timing of President Trump’s decision to rehash what appeared to be a settled reform on health care is far from ideal for the Republican party.
John Harvey IV, a third-year business administration major from Washington, D.C., thinks President Trump should focus on other issues, such as the national debt.
“The Trump administration’s focus on repealing Obamacare shows a lack or wherewithal of the real issues plaguing today’s political climate,” Harvey said. “Furthermore, his continued antics distract Americans from the instability of our current government.”
As the nation nears the 2020 Presidential election, the risk of running on a platform to repeal and replace Obamacare is considerable. Republicans will be trying to defend the White House, protect their majority in the Senate and retake the House. If the midterms were any indication of what issues voters were passionate about, it would not be wise for President Trump to run on the promise of repealing and replacing Obamacare.
Chase Putney, a senior political science major from Newport News, Virginia, is confused by the timing to kick-start national discourse on the ACA.
“The ACA is not unpopular right now, and there is not a better alternative to what we have right now. There is not much evidence for Americans to trust President Trump and the Republican Party to produce a responsible and sustainable alternative to Obamacare if the Supreme Court does find it unconstitutional,” Putney said.
The irony of President Trump’s request to do away with the Affordable Care Act is that the more his administration works to repeal the law, the more popular it becomes, making it harder to challenge. There was a time during President Barack Obama’s presidency that the Affordable Care Act was unpopular.
However, Larry Levitt, senior vice president for health reform at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told CNBC that now is not the time to attempt to repeal Obamacare.
“The one lasting effect of the repeal and replace debate is that the ACA is actually more popular than ever,” Levitt said. “The repeal and replace debate in 2017 did the one thing that seemed impossible, which was to make the ACA popular.”
An August 2017 Kaiser Family Foundation Poll reported that 60 percent believed the government did the right thing by not repealing Obamacare, along with 62 percent of independent voters.
Democrats will readily embrace discourse on the ACA to shift Americans off the findings of the Mueller report. Nancy Pelosi has already announced a vote to shut down President Trump’s attempt to erase the ACA. On Twitter, presidential candidate and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand summed up the Democrats’ position toward a potential fight on health care:
“If it’s a fight for healthcare this administration wants, it’s a fight they’ll get—and we will win.”