Obamacare has put down roots in the national soil. Anyone who thinks pulling it will be easy is in for a surprise.
Shell-shocked Democrats on Capitol Hill are preparing to make a fight for Obamacare their top priority in the opening days of the Trump administration, with leading advocacy groups ready to wage “total war” to defend President Barack Obama’s universal health care program and his domestic policy legacy.
“We’ve got the battle of our lifetime ahead of us,” Ron Pollack, executive director of advocacy group Families USA, said the day after Donald Trump was elected on a pledge to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which now covers 22 million people. “We’re going to have a huge number of organizations from all across the country that will participate in this effort.”
But their options are limited. They have enough votes to block a total repeal of the law on Day One of a Trump administration. But they can’t block Republicans from passing targeted legislation in the coming months, and Trump — like Obama before him — can pick up a pen as early as Jan. 20 and use executive powers to block, change or put on hold key elements of the massive, 6-year-old legislation.
Just this morning my good friend and Trump voter told me that two things are going to be difficult to take away from Americans. One is junior’s right to stay on mom and dad’s plan until 26. The other, he said, is the rule that no one can be denied coverage or charged more due to a pre-existing condition.
The rule allowing kids on parents’ plan until 26 could probably be repealed with some angry opposition but, my friend is correct, the pre-existing condition rule is well loved and will be hard to take away from Americans.
That rule, however, is the tap root of of Obamacare. If you cannot be denied cheap coverage when you have a preexisting condition, then what you are buying isn’t insurance. What you are buying is subsidized health care and no company can just pay customers doctor bills and stay solvent… unless there is an individual mandate with real teeth.
If you are going to have an individual mandate and force people to buy insurance for which they don’t have the funds, you are going to have to subsidize them.
No pre-existing condition denial, an individual mandate and subsidies? Viola! We just reinvented Obamacare.
In order for Obamacare to be repealed and replaced, either the popular pre-existing condition rule will have to go, or whatever replaces it will be more of the same but with a different name.