After many weeks of lobbying both lawmakers and voters, Republican leaders in Washington struggled to obtain votes for the proposed replacement healthcare legislation known as the American Health Care Act, culminating in heated negotiations with hardline conservatives both on Capitol Hill and at the White House. Last Friday, House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the replacement plan immediately prior to the scheduled vote, effectively leaving the Affordable Care Act (ACA) intact. It remains to be seen whether a replacement plan can theoretically or realistically satisfy both moderate and hard-right factions in Congress.
In their Daily Journal article “Affordable Care Act gets an uncertain prognosis,” Partner Michael Parme and Associate Theresa Wynne discuss the challenges that ACA is currently facing and offer some practical insights for its future.
The ACA has successfully extended access to health insurance by reducing barriers to coverage, lowered overall costs of health, and generated more jobs than any other sector in 2016. However, it has been beset by a number of problems, including an early influx of patients into a system with a shortage of primary care physicians and specialists, the perceived obstacle to economic growth caused by the employer mandate, and the claimed restrictions to ‘freedom of choice’ caused by the individual mandate. These issues have caused many leaders in the Republican Party to demand a complete overhaul or repeal of the ACA.
Parme and Wynne wrote, “The ACA can be cured, but those changes or adjustments may realistically require at least a measure of bipartisan support. This can only rationally be done by focusing on the question of health care costs and insurance, and committing to reform that is sufficiently independent of ancillary debates concerning political ideology. This is undoubtedly difficult given the massive nature of ACA and how it is perceived so differently on each side of the aisle.”
They concluded, “[G]iven the current trends and public demand for lawmakers to respond to these concerns, the political costs of allowing ACA to go untreated could be substantial and threaten the governing party’s position.”
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