The GOP’s Healthcare Fail Has Not Been Ignored by Democrats

Speaker Ryan with Trump and Pence

It’s good to see that Democrats are still pushing, even if quietly, for healthcare reform.

Republicans have talked about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act for years. When the time came for them to do it, though, they fell short and came off looking generally unprepared. Democrats have decided to learn from their competitors’ mistakes.

There are several people in Congress, both the House and the Senate, who are putting forward bills to expand the ACA or replace it. At one point, it was thought that the Democratic Party would strive only to maintain the ACA and take it as their main “win.” Recent bills would lead us to expect otherwise, though.

Rising Costs

Even though part of the ACA was to keep insurance prices artificially lower at first, they have since ballooned. A big issue was that insurance companies could no longer deny people for preexisting conditions. That meant more people seeking healthcare were entering the market, so there was a penalty imposed on people who didn’t, to help balance out the cost.

This penalty is a large part of what Republicans argued against, even though it was the only thing that kept insurance companies from going bankrupt without it. Since people have been opting out and paying the penalty instead of getting insurance, the sick people still outweigh and out-cost the healthy ones, which flips the pool upside down. If more than 5% of the people are driving the costs, insurance companies can’t handle the strain.

The Middle Ground

Most of the plans put forth by the Democrats fall somewhere between maintaining ACA and Bernie Sander’s “Medicaid for All” program, which seeks to establish government-funded, free healthcare. But, in the meantime, it seems that many Democrats are at least working to explore other options to fight what the GOP has put forth as a plan for our country’s healthcare system.

Even though a significant portion of Democratic senators came out in support of a single-payer system, some of those same senators have put forth plans that would try to expand federal coverage of health insurance and keep the insurance companies in business at the same time.

This is a fine line to walk and could backfire. But progress in this area is likely to mean that at least some Republicans will have to get on board. Democrats aren’t assuming that they will have the majority power to shove the legislation through.

Right now, a lot of the work that they’re doing is preliminary. They’re using the bills, and each other, as sounding boards to figure out what could potentially work in this broken system we have. Elizabeth Warren, who publicly supported Sander’s Medicaid plan, also put forth her own plan in March to act as an expansion to the ACA.

Senators Murphy and Merkley put forth the “Choose Medicare Act,” which would allow anyone to get Medicaid at a cost that would make it comparable to other insurance plans. Various other plans are also on the table.

None of these plans are likely to pass any time soon, but having them out there and seeing what areas are fiscally reasonable presents a little hope for those of us who understand that what the GOP is proposing for “healthcare” will not work for our country, and that this can’t be ignored. This new movement on the healthcare front allows Democrats to work through the kinks before they have to actually fight for the change that we need. It’s good to see that people are still pushing, even if quietly, for healthcare reform. Keeping it at the top of the news and on everyone’s radar is half the battle, and for that half, Democrats are doing a great job.

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Kate Harveston

Kate Harveston

Kate Harveston is a political writer with an interest in social justice and human rights. If you like her writing, you can follow her on Twitter or visit her blog, “Only Slightly Biased.”
Kate Harveston