It’s been a long time since the GOP has had a golden opportunity for reform. The midterms in 2014 and the presidential election in 2016 propelled them into a position of power they haven’t been in since 2004. In the recent congressional and presidential campaigns, repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was a paramount Republican promise. It resonated with the American people, who never supported the law during the legislative process and the rollout
Despite the unpopularity of Obamacare, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s announcement of the American Health Care Act is receiving some criticism, these include experts at the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. Members of the House Freedom Caucus are not pleased with the proposal, Representative Justin Amash calling it “Obamacare 2.0.” It has been attacked by news organizations that were for President Trump (like Breitbart) and those that were against him (like National Review). Concerns at this stage, of course, happen with every new legislation.
Even though groups within the Republican Party have their differences on Ryan’s proposal, they all must be very careful not to ruin the clear opportunity they have now to save the nation’s health care system. There should be confidence in the GOP’s unified value of the free market, which will ensure that everyone rallies behind the proposal as a whole. The country has a talented speaker in Ryan, who will make all the necessary arrangements and adjustments to get the bill to the president’s desk.
The American Health Care Act creates an effective market-based system, something this country has been lacking for the last eight years. It aims to scrap Obamacare taxes and eliminates the individual and employer mandates, establishes health savings accounts, and provides a monthly tax credit between $2,000 to $14,000.
The number one beneficiaries of the new health care proposal are the middle class. For all of its opponents, the American Health Care Act has supporters. The Economist has pointed out that there are millions of buyers who don’t go through the exchanges and thus receive no subsidies. They’re premiums and deductibles rise with no end in sight. Even worse, insurers have been forced to leave marketplaces where the costs exceed the benefits. Obamacare hasn’t hurt the rich so much as it has hurt middle-income earners.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board has praised the American Health Care Act’s Medicaid reform, which alters the program from being a mere entitlement to block grants for governors. More power is taken away from the federal government and given to the states. The transition period will be three years. It is a perfect way to modernize Medicaid for the twenty-first century.
President Trump is right to say that the GOP “must act now” on health care. It is important to remember that the American people are suffering from Obamacare’s failure. In 2010, the Congressional Budget Office projected that 23 million people would be insured by Obamacare exchanges in 2017. When combining the current number of enrollees through the federal government’s exchange and the twelve state exchanges, there are actually ten million fewer people on Obamacare than expected.
Over one million people are expected to lose their insurance plans from the program this year. In Wisconsin alone, that number is 37,000. Insurers like Humana and UnitedHealth are exiting the markets in many states. Contrary to the name, studies on the Affordable Care Act have found it to be highly unaffordable.
These problems mean that it is vital to implement reforms to the health care system as quickly as possible. The plan put forward is a major improvement from Obamacare. It will help lift our sagging economy and expand access to health care by slashing away the red tape. Whether we are moderates, conservatives, or libertarians it is the responsibility of Republicans everywhere to make sure that this conservative, common sense plan gets passed. The American people are hungry for a better way, so let's give them it.
- John M. Graber, Jr.