Before the passage of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), America had not had a conversation about health care policy in decades. So it's understandable that many elected officials lacked knowledge about America's health care system and assumed it was performing as intended. From what they understood the health care status quo met the needs of the wealthy, professional and middle classes. And the poor, elderly and veterans had government-provided insurance.
But looks can be deceiving; individuals without any group-provided insurance were left to the mercy of the health insurance market. A market that left over 40 million of them uninsured. Obamacare came along and upset the peace of health care policy reform at the best and worst possible time.
It was the best time for an Obamacare-type law because about 40 million Americans did not have health insurance and Obamacare provided coverage to almost 40% of them. And it was the worst time for an Obamacare-type law because the country was and is so divided on most major public policy issues. Major health care reform was introduced in a politically polarized era that became even more polarized when Trump won the presidential election, and the Republicans won a majority of Senate and House seats.
More Than A House Divided
The Republican/conservative health care policy stance is much more splintered than it is among Democrats/liberals. Democrats want Medicare or Medicaid for All, universal health care or single payer. Or maybe they just want more federal funding for the Obamacare exchanges. It depends on which group of Democrats you ask, but at least they all want a health care reform policy that expands coverage to all Americans, Republicans disagree with Democrats on the very definition of universal access to health care. Remember when the Republican Party stupidly referred to health insurance/care access as "freedom?"
But idiotic catchwords aside, Republicans and conservatives also disagree with each other on the policy goals of health care reform. First, there is Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell's (a real life villain) view that replacing Obamacare is the ultimate policy goal. He couldn't care less about the contents of any health bill and its impact on the public. His only health care reform policy objective is to convince enough Republican senators to pass an Obamacare repeal bill quickly. Continue Reading...
Donald Trump is the U.S. President-elect, and everyone who writes and cares about health insurance and health care policy in America is eager to learn what he and his Republican colleagues in the House and Senate will do with the Affordable Care Act (aka, Obamacare). Will they repeal it? Replace it? Both? Neither? We can reasonably expect that over the next four years, Trump will sign off on some policy changes to Obamacare and millions may lose their health insurance.
Still, the larger Obamacare repeal and replace questions remain, will Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, get to institute his Better Way (to Fix Health Care) outline? Or will professional President Obama hater and Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, get to declare Obamacare a total failure with no need to replace? It's looking increasingly likely that they may both get what they want although not because of any powers of persuasion they have, but because repealing and replacing Obamacare will help some Trump family members and friends.
Before he won the election, Trump said he would repeal and replace Obamacare with "something much better for everybody." He also called Obamacare, "A complete disaster." But after he won the election, he said that there are parts of Obamacare that he likes and wants to keep: allowing children to stay on their parents' health plan up to age 26 and the one about people with preconditions (he meant pre-existing conditions, but he's careless and uninformed). Then last week it was reported that Trump has family and friendship ties to a health insurance start-up, Oscar Insurance, that isn't doing so well. Continue Reading...
The upper middle class benefits a lot from the current system of access to health insurance. They are more likely to have jobs that provide health insurance that they can easily afford, and they benefit favorably from the tax treatment of these workplace benefits. So, it is fair to assume that the majority of these individuals do not support changes to the health insurance and health care status quo. But the question on many people's minds is whether the unveiled contempt for the professional elite will impact their health care status.
The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States and a majority Republican House and Senate all but ensures changes to health insurance and health care policy in America. What those changes will be is anyone's guess. Does it mean a cap on pre-tax health insurance premiums that most benefit the upper middle class? It could since there is bipartisan support for such a change.
But I'm betting it won't be for several reasons. One, Trump supporters have yet to articulate what health care reform should look like. Two, most Trump supporters don't understand health insurance or the health care industry well enough to suggest any meaningful changes to them. And, three, many middle class people rely as much on workplace health insurance and its favorable tax treatment as the elites they hate.
But what is the point of beating the elites in a national election, if you can't also make them suffer?
Will Hate Trump Logic? Continue Reading...