Health Care, What is going on?

Reclining in a comfy chair, sipping coldbrew, I’m able to exhale for the first time in a long time. ┬áSince the Affordable Care Act or ACA was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23rd, 2010 there has been an effort to repeal it. Fast forward to January 20th, 2017 Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, Republicans control both houses of Congress, and the Presidency. For the first time since its inception, the ACA has a real possibility of being repealed by Congress and signed out of existence by the President. Today, after weeks of covering healthcare related issues in congress for WSW, I might be able to shed a little light on the subject.

As of January 22nd, 2017 House and Senate Republicans have been unable to successfully garner the requisite support within their party to repeal the ACA without a replacement. Furthermore, the proposed replacement for the ACA, the American Health Care Act or AHCA, is generally seen as an unpassible piece of legislation that would impose dramatic cuts to Medicaid and leave 22 million Americans without healthcare.

While the proposed cuts to Medicaid would appear to result in enormous savings to tax payers, they do not. While the bill accounts for the savings accrued from reduced spending on Medicaid, it does not take into account the cost of newly uninsured Americans on the nation’s healthcare system. Simply put, doctors are required to treat patients who need assistance, regardless of their ability to afford treatment. When someone is uninsured and they receive treatment, they incur the full cost of the treatment. In fact, if they can not afford to pay for the treatment, insurance holders will in the form of higher premiums .

To the uninitiated, this might seem stupid and unfair. “Why am I paying for someone else’s treatment, someone who is uninsured and has nothing to do with me. I can barely afford my own insurance.” Well, this is because of how insurance works. Insurance is a risk industry and risk is mitigated when spread out. That means, the more people that have insurance, the cheaper it is for firms to insure people.

Beyond externalities, cuts to Medicaid result in a loss of critical healthcare services for 23% of the US population that is currently enrolled in the program. This present a major logistical problem for congress. On one hand, they could roll back services and save money. On another, Americans still want and need many of the services Medicaid provides. To complicate this issue even further, Republicans in Congress have invested substantial political capital in repealing the ACA. They almost have to repeal the ACA, as not doing so would look disastrous to their primary voter base.

With all of this in mind, Republicans have canceled the August recess and will not rest until they pass a repeal of the ACA. When will that happen? Your guess is as good as mine. However, If I had to predict when the repeal is going to occur, I’d say mid to late October of this year.

Hopefully, this clears up a little bit of your confusion. If you have any comments on my blog or questions about healthcare, feel free to email me at wolfi@dickinson.edu

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