During his campaign, President-elect Trump had promised American voters that his first act in office would be to repeal and replace Obamacare. The figures that the Obama campaign had presented show that it would be catastrophic to repeal the affordable care act. The non-partisan CBO suggests that it would add $353 billion to the budget deficit by 2025. Even supporters of the Trump administration had not expected it to fulfill its rhetoric as far as the affordable care act is concerned. However, there have been recent developments that suggest that the GOP is in a position to make changes to Obamacare.
Dating as far back as June, the Trump campaign had not given an alternative to the replacement of Obamacare. Obama had suggested during the Hillary Clinton campaign that the Trump side didn’t even “have a semblance of a plan” if Obamacare was repealed. At this point in time that would seem inaccurate, and there are several factors that indicate that Trump would actually look to aggressively repeal Obamacare. Trump’s replacement plan can be summed up in 2 words: Tom Price.
Tom Price has been chosen by President-elect Trump to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services. A longtime critic of the affordable care act, Price offers an alternative plan. The big question is will the Empowering Patients First Act (HR 3762) be able to come on board with a smooth transition?
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that around 22 million people would end up losing insurance under the Empowering Patients First Act. These would most likely be people who have coverage through Medicaid and the insurance marketplaces.
It is not HR 3762’s first taste of the limelight; during 2015 it was a republican bill that was passed in the House as well as the Senate, only to be vetoed by president Obama and become yet another failed attempt towards replacing the Affordable Care Act. With Trump being the next president of the United States, and the republicans having a majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate, it would be much easier to pass the act now.
It is true that replacing the law would generate savings by putting an end to insurance subsidies to millions of Americans. However, by reversing the cuts to Medicare and scrapping its tax increases, the savings mentioned above will be surpassed.
Despite the deficit, repealing the act could boost economic activity by 0.7% over the 2021-2025 time period. This would be a direct result of more workers entering the labor force according to the CBO analysis.
Before the election there was news all over the country about Obamacare premiums rising as high as 22%. Although according to Adler and Ginsburg’s projections, premiums were lower this year than they would have been if ACA had not been present. According to these projections, people were getting more for less under Obamacare.
This has been disputed by Jeffrey Anderson, who had a similar study about premium rates without ACA. He suggests that premium rates have been higher, though it must be admitted that Obamacare is very expensive for certain people, especially if they’re not qualified for subsidies for low or middle income. On average, health costs are growing faster than income.
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel who was a white house adviser to President Obama on healthcare has said “proposals tend to throw millions of people off coverage and jeopardize the preexisting condition exclusion for people who are already sick.” This might be a serious problem that the Trump administration will face in the near future.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence released a statement on FOX news recently confirming that repealing Obamacare will indeed be one of the first acts of the new administration. This means that repealing Obamacare was not just an empty campaign promise, but something that Trump was absolutely serious about.
A full repeal of ACA would mean that at least 18 million Americans would lose health coverage, and this would have further economic and political repercussions. It would cost the federal government $41 billion to fully repeal the act.
These are difficult times for the healthcare industry with so many changes coming around the corner. A full repeal of the act could add millions to the federal budget and alter the way the healthcare industry operates moving forward. So will Obamacare really be affordable once Trump is through with it? If Trump, Pence and Price have their way, the legislation will be ripped to shreds or cease to exist altogether.