Prologue: March 27, 20l9 -We learned that Donald Trump had decided once more to attempt to rid the nation of the A.C.A. known as Obamacare to millions of Americans. The day before, Trump had declared at a closed door meeting of Republicans, “The Republican Party will be known as the Health Care Party!” This was followed by a triumphant rally in Michigan where he had been exulting in his inflated interpretation of The Mueller Report, “No collusion. No collusion…. Complete exoneration!” The latter claim was the exact opposite of Attorney Barr’s four page letter.
Brief History: When Barack Obama was elected in November, 2007, he placed Health Care as one of his top priorities. The struggle took over two years. Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of The House working closely with him. On March 23, 2010 Obama signed the Affordable Care Act to become the “law of the land”. It became known as Obamacare.
By November 2010, The Tea Party had taken over the Republican Party and attacked Obama full force, winning back the House of Representatives. From that day on, their goal was to “Repeal and Replace Obamacare.’’ In the years that followed, they tried over fifty times to do that and failed. The final blow came on July 17 in Obama’s second term, in a Senate vote. It failed when Susan Collins, Lisa Merkowski and John McCain voted No. McCain was already fighting brain cancer and entered late in the vote to turn his right hand thumb down.
Donald Trump elected in 2016. In the years that followed, his administration was described on June 12, 2018 in a lead New York Times editorial as “The Zombie Health Care Killers”. For two years the White House kept threatening Obamacare while voters reported that healthcare was their greatest concern. Midterm elections were coming in November. All Representatives and some Senators whose seats were up faced angry constituents at town meetings. The voters would chant “ACA… ACA”… and tell personal stories of how the ACA had saved their parents’ lives or their own.
In June, 2018, twenty Republican led states filed a lawsuit against Obamacare arguing for repeal of popular consumer protections including coverage of pre-existing conditions. The Justice Department declined to defend Obamacare against the lawsuit. Another administration policy was to encourage “junk health policies” temporary policies that ran out after short periods of time. Also introduced was allowing states to take away Medicaid benefits from people who are not working. States like Kentucky. were encouraged to enact such laws.
Despite attempts to weaken Obamacare, by November 2018 , enrollment in the program had grown by 28 percent since 2013. Voters in Red states , Idaho, Nebraska and Utah approved ballot initiatives to expand coverage under Obamacare. Californians held rallies to replace parts of expiring sections of the law. A huge sign in Los Angeles: “Don’t Make America SICK AGAIN!
November 2018 Midterm Elections: The Blue Wave gave Democrats control of the House of Representatives. They flipped forty Republican seats. Nancy Pelosi was elected Speaker of The House of Representatives once more. 2018 became the second Year of The Women.
During the post election months, political focus turned to the 2020 election. Trump was already holding rallies in key states and Democrats were entering the race: Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders. Health care was an important issue . Sanders endorsed Medicare for All a progressive position favored by the new young wing of the Democratic party.
Speaker Pelosi ‘s goal in Health Care has always been to strengthen Obamacare in different ways. Representative Kim Schrier, Democrat from Washington who is also a pediatrician said, “We have very practical solutions that we can implement immediately. We don’t have the time right now to wait for a full overhaul of our health care system.” The fiery new leader of young progressives, Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez , AOC, said, “I reject the idea that single payer is impossible.” However, Speaker Pelosi had the last word in the Medicare for All feud. She had said, “Health Care was on the ballot in November, and Health Care won. “
Epilogue: Speaker Pelosi and several committee chairs had met and created a plan to build on Obamacare . Now, they will use it to fight Trump’s new declaration of “Repeal and Replace”. It would increase the two main types of financial assistance the law provides: tax credits to help middle and low income people pay premiums, and cost-sharing reductions to lower deductibles on payments and other out of pocket costs.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Democrats reminded reporters that Trump boasted in the Midterms campaign, that “Republicans would always protect patients with pre-existing conditions.” ‘’ We will remind the American people time and time again of that broken promise.” said Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina.
…………………………………………………Joyce S. Anderson