Life is not fair, as they say. I believe that this also goes true when we talk about the present threat to Obamacare and access to quality and affordable health care in the United States.
The “broken” healthcare system before President Barack Obama was voted into office needed sweeping reforms because compared to what European countries and
Canada have, the U.S. lagged behind in terms of providing affordable health care to its people.
This was one of the more important missions of President Obama when he assumed office. Immediately he took the lead in having the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) and Obamacare, passed into law. And on March 23, 2010, the 111th U.S. Congress responded positively and passed the ACA.
The ACA which took effect on January 1, 2014 has a noble purpose--- to provide affordable health coverage to more Americans. And consistent with President Obama’s “change we can believe in” mantra, the ACA also hopes to change the way health insurance companies provide coverage (as well as the way consumers purchase their policies).
By giving more Americans access to affordable and better health coverage, the ACA also aims in the long term to reduce the U.S. government’s health care spending.
So far, ACA has enrolled and has given health care access to more Americans and it has been widely accepted and supported. Just look at the favorable surveys that it has been receiving (including from people and Republican voters who were opposed to it earlier). But after the electoral victory of President Donald Trump and the Republicans gaining control of Congress, sweeping policy changes in healthcare are again expected. It is clear that Republicans will repeal one of President Obama’s major accomplishments as president.
Indeed Republicans in the lower house acted swiftly and fast following the lead of President Trump. They fast tracked and recently passed the legislation to repeal and replace major parts of the ACA.
Why? Is there something wrong with President Obama’s Affordable Care Act?
Whatever happened to “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” ACA is only on its third year. It is not perfect but it works. Certainly there is room for improvement and there are parts that can be enhanced to make it better. So why the need to repeal and replace it?
To repeal and replace ACA is beyond my comprehension and most Americans should feel the same way too. The last “major health care law” before ACA, the federal law for the health care of those who are 65 years old and older (the Medicare and Medicaid programs) was passed on July 30, 1965 under President Lyndon B. Johnson. This 1965 health care reform law was an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935.
ACA became law in 2010, almost 45 years after the Medicare and Medicaid programs were put into place. During the 50th celebration of the anniversary of this amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935, the centers for Medicare and Medicaid services marked the anniversary of the programs by recognizing the ways in which Medicare and Medicaid have transformed the nation’s health care system over the past five decades.
Notice that in the five decades after the Medicare and Medicaid law was passed, Republicans never moved nor succeeded in “repealing and replacing” Medicare and Medicaid. It makes perfect sense. Why oppose these programs that have been protecting the health and well-being of millions of Americans for the past 50 years? These programs aside from saving lives have also improved the economic security of the U.S.
In President Obama’s ACA, health care access and coverage expanded to reach working class citizens who now can afford and enjoy having health coverage benefits.
Also, a past Republican president, President George W. Bush, even signed into law the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) which added outpatient prescription drug benefits to Medicare recipients.
The ACA was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 28, 2012 after a strong challenge from the Republicans. So why repeal and replace it now? Why not just expand and improve it? Really, what is Trumpcare for?
Until next week.
Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336. You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.