Last Friday, President Donald Trump signed his first executive order, which included a set of instructions for the federal government to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. This decision, which was a staple of his 2016 Republican Presidential campaign, has become a large topic of debate and discussion across the United States.
In light of recent events, many USM students stated that the repeal of Obamacare would be a dangerous first move by Trump. Yet, in order to grasp a better understanding of the topic at hand, it is important to look at both the pros and cons of Obamacare, as well as analyze the implications of repealing and replacing it.
Currently, the executive order signed by Trump doesn’t necessarily change anything, but it does shed light on his determination to follow-up on his campaign promise to eliminate what he considers “the burdens of Obamacare.” The current health care law includes various legal requirements and has provided billions of dollars in health coverage to millions of Americans. The dismantling of Obamacare, then, cannot be repealed with an act of Congress.
According to the Obamacare Facts website, which lists the various pros and cons of Obamacare, as well as updates on Trump’s repeal process, tens of millions of uninsured people gained access to affordable and high-quality health insurance because of Obamacare’s expansion.
The site goes on to explain that, while the repeal of Obamacare is certain and the Republican process has already begun, there is still no official replacement on the table for discussion. Last week, Counselor to President Trump Kellyanne Conway stated that Republicans plan to turn control of Medicaid over to the states as part of the replacement plan, but this decision doesn’t come without controversy.
According to an article by the Bangor Daily News (BDN) published on Jan. 22, the Affordable Care Act has reduced the number of uninsured from 41 million to 29 million, including 22,000 in Maine, since it was passed in 2010. To eliminate this health policy writes BDN staff writer Nick Sambides, which would lead to an annual loss of $300 million dollars per year, and could cause an “utter collapse of the hospital system in Maine” if the replacement isn’t “reasonable.”
“What is [Trump] going to replace Obamacare with, and how?” stated Aaron Nielson, a senior media studies major at USM. “It seems to be less about the people and more about asserting power and tarnishing the former administration’s legacy.” Nielson further explained that, while the process is complicated, healthcare for the masses seems like a step in the right direction for the United States.
However, Obamacare doesn’t come without its flaws, as many insurance premiums have skyrocketed since the inception of the healthcare plan. But that doesn’t mean a repeal process will make the costs go down. An article published by CNN in early January writes that the repeal process of Obamacare alone will potentially cost $350 billion over the next ten years.
Student Body President Humza Khan stressed that Trump’s plan for repealing the Affordable Care Act seems to be motivated by the desire to erase Obama’s legacy. He stated that this decision is not an attempt to reduce the cost of healthcare, and to repeal and replace will be detrimental to the millions of people who currently rely on it.
“This futile attempt to erase President Obama’s legacy is really not something the President should be focusing on. There are many issues that Americans are facing that need his attention,” Khan said. “On the other hand, Republicans should focus on how to fix or improve upon the current legislation and not attempt to strip millions of Americans of their healthcare. Improving the current legislation is better than removing and then replacing.”
According to an editorial published by the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, the proposal currently being discussed by the GOP would “eliminate the requirement that insurers offer comprehensive policies,” which would result in insurers having the ability to “sell cheaper plans that exclude the coverage of costly treatments,” such as maternity care or serious surgeries. Costs of treatments, then, would be pushed on the people who desperately need them, but cannot afford them.
“The incoming administration is very dangerous for not only women but for people of color, the LGBTQ community, Muslims, immigrants and people with disabilities,” said Samantha Torr, a sophomore women and gender studies major. “Putting healthcare on the line without any sort of replacement is extremely irresponsible and dangerous for a lot of people. Organizations that are federally funded, such as Planned Parenthood, are necessary for many folks to have safe and accessible health care.”
As of Sunday, Jan. 22, Conway stated in an interview broadcast that health care coverage will continue to be provided after Obamacare is repealed.
“This is something that Donald Trump can do in pretty short order. And people instead of being, you know, reflexively negative and congenitally — critical should really stop and look at the difference he can make for many people,” she stated.
What is that difference President Trump can make, one may ask? Only time will tell.