The article originally appeared on India Today.
While former US President Barack Obama has slammed the latest version of the healthcare bill unveiled by the Republican Senators to replace the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare as it is popularly known, his successor Donald Trump has reiterated that Obamacare is dead. Enacted by the US Congress, the ACA was signed and put in place by Barack Obama in March 2010.
Obama termed the Republican bill “a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America” whereas Trump wrote on Twitter that “he was very supportive of the Senate healthcare bill and looked forward to making it really special” reiterating that ObamaCare was dead. Obamacare, seen as the most important reform measure in the US healthcare system after 1960s Medicaid, has been opposed by the Republicans. They say it hurts businesses and kills jobs though a BBC report last month said that Obamacare has added 9 per cent more jobs in the healthcare industry since its implementation in 2010.
Barack Obama, a Democrat, in his detailed response on the controversy over Obamacare and its replacement with Trumpcare or the Republican healthcare act, a central campaign promise of Donald Trump, looks to decimate the Republican noise on a bill that is expected to leave millions of Americans out of the US government mandated healthcare protection.
While presenting arguments in favour of Obamacare, Obama writes in his Facebook post that the legislation has helped cover 90 per cent Americans and the insurance companies now cannot ask for more or deny insurance citing pre-existing health conditions. He says that the legislation has slowed down the pace of rising healthcare costs and slams the Republican version as a hastily arrived antithesis to what Obamacare stands for.
He writes that “the legislation rushed through the House and the Senate without public hearings or debate would do the opposite. It would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it”, backing his comment on analyses in the US media and the Congressional Budget Office’s assessment which has projected that the new bill would leave 14 million Americans uninsured the very next year and the figure would reach to 23 million by 2016.
He accepts that though a significant step, “ACA was not perfect, nor could it be the end of our efforts – and that if Republicans could put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I would gladly and publicly support it.”
Trump, during the campaign phase of the US presidential polls, and even after his election, had raised hopes of a healthcare act to replace Obamacare that would guarantee ‘universal healthcare’ but going by the versions of the Republican healthcare bill so far, there has been a growing consensus in the US that if implemented in the current form, the Republican legislation would devoid millions of the much needed healthcare protection and at the same time would increase healthcare cost for many and would ruin Medicaid, a US government programme for financially weaker section that has been in place for decades.
Obama writes that he hopes that even many Republicans who fought for the ACA would see these concerns and would say no to the bill in its current form, “Thousands upon thousands of Americans, including Republicans, threw themselves into that collective effort, not for political reasons, but for intensely personal ones – a sick child, a parent lost to cancer, the memory of medical bills that threatened to derail their dreams.”
And Obama is right. Within hours of the unveiling of the Republican legislation, four conservative Republicans came out to say that they cannot support the bill in its current form, a Reuters report said. Even last month, while delivering a speech during an event, Obama had appealed to the Congressmen to oppose Trump administration’s moves to repeal Obamacare, adding that “the lawmakers should have the courage to champion the vulnerable and the sick and the infirm,” a CNN report said.
So far, either Donald Trump or the Republican senators have not been able to come out with a piece of legislation that would be smart enough to outdo the Obamacare. Democrats have stood united against any proposed Republican healthcare bill so far. But what should be eye-opener that even many Republicans are against the Obamacare replacement in its present form that makes Republican Party, that is in majority, short of votes to pass the bill in the House as happened in May this year when, in a major defeat for Donald Trump, the Republicans had to withdraw the legislation as they could not garner numbers even after months of canvassing. Trump’s assertion few hours ago that he has helped pass and signed 38 Legislative Bills, mostly with no Democratic support, and gotten rid of massive amounts of regulations is of no use in case of Obamacare as long as the whole Republican Party stands behind him.
Accusing Trump of “giving billionaires and corporations a massive tax cut” and bringing a piece of legislation that will put the American people through the pain of massive healthcare costs, unlimited bills and insurers’ rejections once lose their insurance cover under Obamacare, Obama appeals to the Americans to call Congress members and visit their offices and speak out their minds to let America know “in very real terms, what this means for them and their family” because what is at stake here is bigger than politics. It is the character of the nation – “who we are, and who we aspire to be and that’s always worth fighting for,” Obama writes.