Thursday brought the fledgling Trump administration its grandest political victory yet, scored by the House Republican majority against Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act.
Midway through the day, Representatives gathered on Capitol Hill to vote on the future of what became known popularly as ‘Obamacare.’ Reviled by the Right for being socialist and decried by some on the Left as too little, the landmark statute has been besieged by critics even before its inception.
Repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has been a priority for congressional Republicans for years.
Donald Trump campaigned on the promise of a Strong America rid of the weak nanny-state policies of the Democrats.
Dealing a death blow to Obamacare was among his foremost priorities, along with building a wall, banning Muslim immigration, and bringing the economy back to better times.
Having succeeded in their initial test vote, House Republicans were reportedly celebratory in the hours leading up to yesterday’s vote. Paul Ryan, sensing success after the last attempt at repeal-and-replace he’d spearheaded and failed, was described as ‘giddy.’
Conservatives, overjoyed at the prospect of pushing back the lingering shadow of former President Barack Obama, must have overlooked a handful of conspicuous absences on Capitol Hill.
Foremost among them was a report from the Congressional Budget Office, the findings of which effectively put a lid on the slashed Obamacare repeal attempt from earlier in 2017. Moderate Republicans then had waited on the CBO’s estimate of impact before ceding their vote one way or another.
When the report was released, its findings shocked: tens of millions of Americans would lose their health insurance by 2024. Premiums would go up for consumers across the board, with some of the nation’s most vulnerable demographics at risk of falling off to ‘uncovered.’ Tax credits, touted in place of subsidies, would be given to individuals unable to afford health insurance without assistance – credits which would be worth far less than their subsidy counterparts for many.
But Republicans, who have been waiting two terms to wax red on Capitol Hill, weren’t willing to wait for another report or estimate of wrongdoing.
They needed an accomplishment – one that wouldn’t and couldn’t be held up for careful consideration.
The latest rendition of the House bill, tweaked to appease members of the conservative Freedom Caucus, changes little from the last. Older Americans will still be subject to higher premiums than the young. Medicaid has had financing pulled out from underneath it. Wealthy citizens, along with health insurance companies and their client businesses, get lower taxes to uphold a system which was deemed by the Right as ‘too socialist.’
But the challenge for the Right isn’t over. Though Republicans may have begun repealing and replacing and retracting the healthcare coverage of millions of Americans, their work won’t be done until the Senate has its say.
Many expect the other branch of legislature will use the House’s bill as a general sort of guideline.
But for Representatives, the accomplishment of the effort, however ill-conceived and quickly planned, is enough to take home to their constituents.
One of the 20 Republicans in the House who voted ‘no’ to the repeal, Rep. Charlie Dent (PA), said, “I think people in the House just simply wanted to get a bill out of the House and hoped the Senate did something with it.”