In 2010, a political movement that would forever change the path of the Republican party swept the nation: the Tea Party. Its number one grievance? Obamacare.
In the years following the first rallies, the movement brought leaders to Washington who battled bureaucracy, took on establishment politics, and strongly opposed entitlement programs like Obamacare.
After a Republican base uninspired by moderate Mitt Romney failed to win the White House in 2012, hope for an Obamacare repeal dwindled. But Tea Party leaders continued to advance the will of the people, so committed to the cause they even shut the government down for more than two weeks in 2013. And then, the same movement won again in 2014. And in 2016? Donald Trump capitalized on the same sentiment: an electorate fed up with politics as usual. He won in what may have been the most anti-status quo rebellion in recent history.
With a Republican in the White House –an anti-establishment one, at that– those of us in the movement expected a Congress finally emboldened to actually repeal and replace the law that inspired so many to act.
This week, we saw the first plan for a replacement and at first glance. It looks like a huge disappointment.
The American Health Care Act, as it has been introduced, has already faced opposition from Tea Party leaders. Sen. Rand Paul, Rep. Mark Meadows, Rep. Jim Jordan, and Rep. Louie Gohmert have all come out against it already, admitting the bill, while it attempts to solve a lot of the political problems caused by Obamacare, leaves several a few big problems unaddressed.
The biggest issue is that there’s no relief to bring down actual healthcare costs, save for a few proposed subsidies to help people pay for expensive insurance plans. Unfortunately, as we’ve learned from this bill’s predecessor, when you subsidize something, you make it more expensive overall.
High deductibles are crushing families. While the bill offers the restoration of Health Care Savings Accounts, that will do little to benefit families who do not make enough money to put aside in the first place. So, for the uninsured, paying for insurance will remain difficult. And those already insured will just keep having to pay for overpriced care.
Additionally, the new plan for the Medicaid expansion maintains a similar “phase-out” plan as original Obamacare. States that expanded coverage will ultimately be required to pay for that expansion. This will ultimately mean more taxes for individuals and local businesses. This phase-out method is most likely carefully inserted in this bill to keep a favorable CBO score. But it is far from the best, or most conservative, option.
There are rumors the ACHA bill will look a lot different after amendments are added and it is finalized in committee. Not all hope is lost. But if this is the best option brought on by so many politicians elected to reject these politics-as-usual tactics, well, it’s very unfortunate. Republicans should be using this chance to finally relieve the concerns of the majority of Americans by offering real reform, not to basically endorse what is sure to be a failing entitlement program that will burden us all. If not, they stand to lose the support of the constituencies so recently energized by the events of 2016, including us millennials who will undoubtedly bear the brunt of increasing healthcare costs.