Politicians have been trying for decades to fix a fractured and broken American healthcare system, so it should come as no surprise that the new president – a staunch businessman with full backing from the Republican Party – seems determined to put his own spin on healthcare reform. Repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act will not be easy. The massive healthcare legislation took years to construct and implement, and undoing it overnight is not only impossible but politically disadvantageous to the new administration. There are several problems with President Trump’s vision of repeal and replacement, which will need to be addressed before the ACA gets its makeover.
Lack of Detail
Trump has yet to introduce a specific, concrete plan to replace Obamacare legislation. There’s also been little in the way of explanation as to how he plans to implement changes under his administration, other than to say that Americans nationwide will be proud of what was accomplished in the end. Lack of detail has left members of his own party to deal with a tricky political problem, the likes of which have already resulted in various splinter groups within Congress proposing their own vision for the future of healthcare reform. Until the public gets more details on how the new president and Congress will change the ACA, confusion and uncertainty will dominate the landscape.
What is Clear
Some Republicans are leaning toward a repeal-and-delay approach whereby the law would be repealed in total and replaced with something else over a period of two to three years. Trump doesn’t like this plan, nor do many other members of Congress, from both sides of the aisle. Analysts agree that this plan is on shaky ground with too much opposition in place already to even consider it. Senators in the Republican Party have come out in support of a plan to simultaneously repeal and place Obamacare, but even that is mired in controversy.
What is clear is that eliminating major provisions of the Affordable Care Act will prove more difficult than initially proposed. The bottom line is that President Trump can’t undo years’ worth of legislation in one fell swoop – at least not practically speaking. From an authoritative standpoint, he has the ability and congressional support to gut Obamacare and make it unrecognizable. But implementing new policies and disrupting the healthcare system would be politically risky at best.
Getting on the Same Page
Political representatives don’t always agree with each other even when they’re on the same side. Such is the case with Republicans in Congress. Since the ACA was passed nearly seven years ago, there have been dozens of attempts to overturn and undermine the healthcare law. Now that Republicans control the House, the Senate and the office of the presidency, they’re in a unique position to achieve what they’ve been attempting for nearly a decade. The problem is that they can’t agree on how to proceed.
Trump’s vision for the future of the country centers on the free market and giving people the power to choose whether they’re covered or not. During his inauguration speech, the president told the American people that government was being put back into their hands. What this mentality and approach to governance means for healthcare is unclear. Paul Ryan, who appears to be advising Trump on policy issues, has his own vision for healthcare reform, as does Tom Price, Trump’s nominee for secretary of the health and human services department. Between these three powerful figures, it should be possible to consolidate ideas into one acceptable and beneficial healthcare reform bill.
What Will Trump Do Now That He’s in Office?
A new and comprehensive healthcare system must first be enacted, and it must be a program that continues to cover the millions of Americans who are currently insured. Failing to do so would be catastrophic, as individuals the country over could potentially be without insurance once again and have no adequate means of becoming covered.
One of the primary concerns involves uncertainty over the preexisting conditions exclusion that was implemented under Obamacare. Under the ACA, plans on and off the healthcare exchanges can’t discriminate against people with medical problems. This has amounted to much better medical care for millions of people with conditions ranging from diabetes to terminal cancer. Trump has said that he wants to keep this feature in his healthcare plan, but he has yet to explain how this would be possible, from a financial standpoint, in a system that doesn’t mandate coverage.
With Trump’s election to office, Americans are now more unsure than ever about the future of their healthcare coverage. Will the ACA’s key provisions remain intact? For how long? As open enrollment wraps up for 2017, millions of people still need to sign up for health insurance, but there are lingering questions causing confusion and delay. President Trump will need to roll out his healthcare plan – and soon – to quell the fears of the American people.