By Michael Covin
During much of President Barack Obama’s two terms in office, one of the most common goals of the Republican Party in Congress and beyond was to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act that was passed and signed into law in March 2010.
The bill and law became a major centerpiece of the 2010 Midterm Elections and was a major reason for the Republican Party retaking control of the U.S. House. It was still a major debate topic in 2012 when President Obama was reelected and 2014 when the Republican Party took back control of the U.S. Senate.
While there were several issues and types of legislation that the newly shifted Congresses in 2011, 2013, and 2015 could have been working on that had a chance to both gain some bipartisan support and potentially be signed into law by the president, they largely focused on what helped bring many of the newly elected members to office and that was repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Over 50 votes had taken place by November 2016 when a new president was elected.
That new president was Donald Trump whose election gave the Republican Party their first full control of national government in a decade. After multiple attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the Republican Party saw the light at the end of their long fight with a president who would sign such legislation. After multiple attempts and small successes for the Republican Party, the votes ultimately fell short after about eight months of votes, closed meetings, and other maneuvers.
While the votes did not fall the president’s and his party’s way in the end, they still have continued to lobby to voters that the healthcare system is failing and the Affordable Care Act is causing more harm than good. The president has also publicly stated to letting the system fail and place blame on the Democratic Party.
While the Affordable Care Act was not passed in an ideal or bipartisan fashion and it has not delivered everything as hoped or promised, there still has been successes including lowering the uninsured rate.
Whether through efforts by Trump and Congress or other reasons like instability in the markets and public advisements for signup periods, the insured rate rose in 2017 by 1.3 percent to just over 12 percent. A number still relatively low, but an increase which warrants attention and discussion in 2018 with the party in control fighting against the current system and changes with the removal of the individual mandate coming in 2019.
To provide a point a reference, that 1.3 percent might seem small but it equates to roughly 3.2 million people. The declines in coverage largely came from the following groups: those between the ages of 18 and 25, Black and Hispanic individuals, and those with a household income of under $36,000 annually.
Finally, the number of people buying coverage on the individual market was down 1 percent in 2017 and likely part of that was due to the enroll period being cut in half by the current administration.