Will Republicans Ever Be Able to Replace Obamacare?

Date: March 16, 2016

Since the Affordable Care Act debate began, little progress has been made to repeal or replace it. There’s finally a replacement plan—but that’s just the beginning.

It remains one of the most contentious issues dividing the political parties today.

The Affordable Care Act passed in 2009, with the Republican leadership promising Americans it would repeal and replace the healthcare bill. But that’s been followed by almost eight years of frustration.

“One reason for their inability is deep disagreement within the Republican conference about what could replace the ACA,” John McDonough writes in Newsweek. “While Republicans find it easy to vote to repeal the law, their consensus vanishes when the topic turns to replacement.” 

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A Plan, at Last

But could 2016 be different?

After “years of broken promises,” according to McDonough, the GOP released a mission statement on healthcare, which could signal that a consensus on an Obamacare replacement has been reached in the Republican Party.

The mission statement reads:

“To modernize American health care with patient-centered solutions that improve access, choice, and quality, lower costs, promote innovation, and strengthen the safety net for the most vulnerable.

“Obamacare is proof that putting the government at the center of our health care system harms patients, families, providers, and businesses. This is why we need to replace Obamacare’s obsolete, one-size-fits-all approach with innovative, market-based, patient-centered solutions.”

Republican candidates have championed healthcare plans that have similar talking points: repealing Obamacare, less restrictions on interstate sale of health insurance, tax-detectable premiums, and placing Medicare and Medicaid on a sustainable path for the future.

Just the Beginning

Even with this newfound camaraderie among most of the GOP, there are bigger obstacles that must be faced before Obamacare is repealed.

First, Republicans must gain control of the White House, House of Representatives and Senate in the coming elections. If not, Democrats will easily block any legislation that damages the legacy of Obamacare—and the “trench warfare that’s taken place since Democrats lost control of Congress in January 2011” will continue, McDonough warns.

Second, the GOP must overcome the inevitable filibuster by Senate Democrats. Even if the Republicans reestablish control of both the House and Senate in the next election, a 60-vote majority needed to break a filibuster is unlikely, especially as the number of Democrats is predicted to increase over 46, McDonough continues.

What About Trump?

Front-runner Donald Trump’s seven-point healthcare plan does diverge from the pack in one aspect: calling for the importation of lower-cost prescription drugs, according to Mic.

In that regard, Trump’s plan aligns itself with Democrat candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the Washington Examiner reports. All three agree, as Trump says on his website, that states “allowing consumers access to imported, safe and dependable drugs from overseas will bring more options to consumers.”

It’s a battle ahead to replace Obamacare—a situation that has left many small business owners feeling downright sick.


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