Repeal of Affordable Care Act Could Turn into Pyrrhic Victory for GOP Congress

“Many are already claiming that ‘Trumpcare’ will essentially amount in a tax break for the wealthy, while leaving middle and working class Americans on the hook for more expensive health care.”

The American Health Care Act  passed the House on razor thin margins last week. House Republicans wheeled in cases of Bud Light for some good ole fashioned working class toasts. Some GOP’ers apparently lit up cigars. Last week, the fix was in and the GOP rejoiced. The star of the moment was House leader Paul Ryan, who got to celebrate his first big “victory.” It’s fair to question, however, if it was a pyrrhic victory, and one that could ultimately result in the GOP losing its Congressional majorities in 2018.

Why? While the Affordable Care Act (ACA, AKA Obamacare) has been widely derided, many fear that “Trumpcare” could be an even bigger dose of worse medicine. Trumpcare, at least in the form that passed through the House, is going to leave millions of Americans exposed to potential gaps and short-falls.

The most pressing issue at the moment is pre-existing conditions, with the Republican House bill apparently weakening protections for said conditions quite substantially. Many are already claiming that Trumpcare will essentially amount in a tax break for the wealthy, while leaving middle and working class Americans on the hook for more expensive health care. States could also see reductions in Medicaid funding.

So far, little is actually known about the impact of the ACA repeal legislation. That’s because the GOP charged ahead without a report from the Congressional Budget Office. This non-partisan government office provides reports on what budget impacts various bills will have, and in the case of health care, also looks at how many people could lose coverage. Charging ahead with such uncertainties creates risks, and already Republican Senator McCain has slammed House Republicans for not waiting for the CBO report.

The last GOP ACA repeal bill would have resulted in some 24 million people losing coverage. It remains unclear whether the recently passed version of AHCA will result in more, fewer, or the same number of people losing coverage. It’s also unclear what impact the bill would have on the budget. If millions are at risk of losing coverage, or savings don’t materialize, House Republicans will leave themselves exposed.

With 2018 Almost Here, AHCA Will Be a Big Election Issue

If Trumpcare is passed as is, it could cost the GOP seats in 2018. 14 of the 23 GOP members of the House who reside in districts that went Hillary Clinton’s way in the Presidential race supported the bill. These 14 are already among the prime targets in the up-coming 2018 race. The rest of the GOP could find itself vulnerable too.

While many voters despised the Affordable Care Act as a whole, many also supported a number of individual provisions. Back in 2012, 62% of voters supported allowing children to remain on their parent’s insurance until age 26, 72% supported requiring companies with more than 50 employees to provide insurance, and 82% supported a ban on denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

Further, “Obamacare” has turned out to be something of a vintage wine. Its popularity has grown as the years have gone by. Recent polls suggested that only 37% of Americans believed that ACA should be repealed. 61% believed that Trump should keep and improve the health care legislation. In the meantime, 79% of Americans believed Trump should try to make ACA work, with only 13% believing he should try to make it fail.

So far, it’s unclear how much President Trump supports the AHCA. Previously, Trump had promised to make health care more affordable and to expand coverage. Trump had also said people with pre-existing conditions wouldn’t be left behind.

Brian Brinker

Brian Brinker is an OpsLens Contributor and political consultant. Brinker has an M.A in Global Affairs from American University.

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