Efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare still moving forward after Senate meets with Trump
Earlier this week, the media quickly declared that congressional efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare had collapsed. We’ve previously heard reports declaring repeal efforts dead back in March when Speaker Paul Ryan found he didn’t yet have the votes to pass a bill. Yet Ryan eventually brought enough Republicans together.
I remain optimistic that Republicans will eventually come together and finally deliver on their promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. That’s because I’ve always thought it would be impossible for Republicans to ignore the severe upheaval happening in individual health insurance markets across the country, all a result of Obamacare. The American people cannot suffer much longer under ongoing premium spikes and dwindling choices.
I’m still cautiously optimistic thanks to President Trump’s recent action on Wednesday to bring Senators to the White House to, as he explained, “deliver on our promise to the American people to repeal Obamacare and to ensure that they have the health care they need.”
In that meeting, Trump made clear that Republicans can’t ignore the severe problems many Americans are now enduring under Obamacare. After reminding the senators that they had been promising to repeal and replace Obamacare for seven years, Trump admonished them that “people are hurting; inaction is not an option.”
McConnell followed Trump’s lead and is now actively working to gather support to open up a floor debate on the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. This is a reversal from earlier in the week when McConnell suggested they would just vote on a repeal bill without any replacement.
One of the problems Trump noted in his meeting with the Senators is that no one has been explaining how this effort to replace Obamacare will help the American people. Republican Senators can use these floor debates to make their case to the American people.
Importantly, Wednesday also marks a much stronger, more public role for Trump and his administration in selling how this bill works. Most observers agree you need strong executive leadership to pass legislation as substantial as replacing Obamacare.
Already, the Trump administration has released helpful information on the severe problems Americans now face when buying health insurance individually. In May, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a report documenting the fact that individual insurance market premiums doubled between 2013 and 2017. This was important because no one had yet compared pre-Obamacare premiums with current Obamacare premiums. HHS is also regularly updating information on the number of American counties projected to have no health plan options or no choice over a health plan. Presently, 40 counties are project to have no health plan in 2018.
Last week, HHS also began offering important information on how the bill can help Americans. They modeled the controversial Cruz amendment that would allow insurers to sell health plans that don’t comply with Obamacare regulations, called Consumer Freedom Plans, so long as they also sell Obamacare-compliant health plans. Critics complained that allowing this bifurcated insurance market wouldn’t work. Yet, HHS modeling projects the Consumer Freedom Amendment would lower premiums and increase enrollment. Without these facts from HHS, supporters had nothing to counter the steady stream of criticism reported in the media.
This information and Trump’s more public role is exactly what’s necessary to show Americans how Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare will make health care better and give me continued optimism that Republicans ultimately achieve success.