A major pillar of the Donald Trump campaign was to repeal and replace Obamacare.
It then came as no surprise that within two months of President Trump’s inauguration, a bill to do just that was introduced to the House of Representatives on March 20.
Known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the bill passed through the House by a margin of 217-213 on May 4. The bill was re-branded as The Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA), following several Senate edits to the bill. On July 18, after nearly a month of delays and new drafts, the GOP awoke to a major update on the bill. The Republican health care bill collapsed after two GOP senators publicly announced their disapproval of the BCRA.
Republican Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell said “Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful.
Tuesday’s GOP loss means that the Senate will now pursue a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to afford for a transition and restructuring of the health care system.
The GOP plans on only repealing Obamacare in the coming months, but will attempt to replace in the future. Thus, there is a possibility a new healthcare bill similar to this legislation could be proposed and passed during Trump’s tenure as president.
Prior to the Senate’s vote disapproving the GOP bill, students weighed in on the potential effects of the bill in its former state.
Students talk AHCA and BCRA
For Sophia Miller, a freshman international affairs major from Carrollton, the Affordable Care Act has offered health benefits for her family that she said the GOP health plan would not.
“Being the child of two self-employed parents, the tax credits we received under Obamacare were extremely beneficial, and allowed my family to have comprehensive insurance which helped save my mom’s life when she had appendicitis,” Miller said.
Brett Feldman, a sophomore SGA senator and political science and international affairs major from Sandy Springs, said the Athens Clarke County community, which has one of the largest poverty levels in the state, would have been negatively affected by the bill.
He said college students would have benefited taking into consideration that the majority of students will remain on their families’ healthcare plans until age 26.
“Trumpcare does benefit younger healthcare holders,” Feldman said. “For example, policy holders under the age of 30 would receive a refundable tax credit of up to $2,000 to alleviate the cost of their premiums. This bill affects the surrounding community at UGA more than the students at UGA themselves.”
In an interview prior to the GOP bill collapsing, Feldman said his family would have directly been affected by the bill’s additional amendments to the section concerning ‘pre-existing conditions’ since his father is a cancer survivor. Essentially, insurance providers would have legally been able to alter premiums for Americans with a history of illness.
“The new Republican bill maintains Obamacare’s ban on insurers denying coverage to sick people, but an amendment to it allows the insurance companies to charge as much as they want for such policies,” Feldman said. “My father, a survivor of cancer, could have to pay exceedingly more only because he has a history of illness.”
For Luqman Elrifadi, a sophomore international affairs and economics major from Kennesaw, partisanship should not be a part of putting an effective and protective health care plan in place for the United States.
“I think that there are some issues where partisanship really shouldn’t matter, specifically on many of the points of contention of the bill,” Elrifadi said. “Being a liberal or a conservative can’t defend denying prenatal care to women, gutting Medicare, allowing states to discriminate against patients who are elderly or have, ‘pre-existing’ conditions.”
Amongst students, the majority interviewed agreed that the largest disadvantage of the bill was the amount of people that would be left without health insurance by the time it would have gone into effect.
“The bill [was] being drafted behind closed doors by a group of white, wealthy men who have very little understanding of the diverse healthcare needs of those who don’t enjoy the luxury of a six-figure congressional paycheck,” Feldman said.
After researching the bill and analyzing its long-term effects, Feldman said the former plan could have affected the nation’s death toll.
“That drastic loss in healthcare will surely lead to an increase of deaths for the older and less wealthy,” Feldman said. “According to research completed by Vox, 208,500 excess deaths will occur as a result of the insurance loss caused by Trumpcare. .... It is my belief that this healthcare bill is the biggest threat to the safety of everyday Americans than any threat by a terrorist organization or foreign power.”
Elrifadi said when referring to the former BCRA bill that the well being of Americans should be the focus of any healthcare plan now or in the future.
“There can be no excuse for not taking care of those in our society who are most in need, which is why the entire proposed healthcare plan frustrates me,” Elrifadi said. “It annoys me because I’m an American, not because I’m a liberal.”
According to GOP Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, a comprehensive repeal plan of Obamacare is underway following Tuesday’s loss.
On July 19, President Trump and GOP senators met for a last minute effort to create another Republican health care bill.
A new CBO report says an Obamacare repeal with no replacement would see 32 million fewer people insured, with deficit savings of $421 billion by 2026.