On the failure of trump care and the universal coverage pipedream
Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, pulled the American Health Care Act the afternoon of March 24, much to the apparent relief of nearly everyone. In a poll released by Quinnipiac University the Thursday before, it was reported that only 17 percent of citizens supported the American Health Care Act, or as it has been more euphemistically called, Trumpcare.
The difference between Obamacare and Trumpcare are nominal in many respects leading different politicians to refer to Trumpcare as “Obamacare Lite.” It is true that Trumpcare would have kept many of the popular intricacies of Obamacare, such as dependency on a parent’s insurance until the age of 26, and the stipulation that insurance companies cannot turn away people with pre-existing conditions.
Where did Trumpcare turn wrong, then? Well, it would have changed the tax credit for the insurance that is received from the income of that person as it is under Obamacare to being dependent on a person’s age. While Trumpcare would have kept the pre-existing non-exemption portion of Obamacare, it would allow older people to be charged five times more than a young healthy person rather than only three times under the current Obamacare. In short, the poor to middle class older people who overwhelmingly voted for President Trump were outraged. Additionally, Trumpcare would have defunded some of the most popular social programs, such as Planned Parenthood and Medicaid.
It is important to understand that Trumpcare was a highly ideological bill in that it is quite transparently stating the Republican position on healthcare. Namely, this the belief that healthcare is a responsibility whereas Democrats believe healthcare is a right. “But the Republicans control both legislative houses and the white house, why can’t they do what they want?” you may find yourself asking.
To answer this, it is important to understand the circumstances under which obamacare was passed. Nancy Pelosi, the previous Speaker of the House, is largely credited with passing Obamacare. She did this by going to representatives and heavily compromising, leading to an extremely complicated bill where, arguably, not as much compromise was needed. Politics is dirty but she got to job done where Paul Ryan couldn’t. How were the Democrats rewarded? They were crushed in the 2009 election. The Republicans learned from this and many of the hard right Republicans thought Trumpcare did not go far enough and that in compromising, they would lose their jobs.
The Republicans may try to keep an illusion of unity, however, today the party is more fractured than ever. There are still members of the Republican Party in the Tuesday group, who are only center-right and still believe that many social programs will still do good for society in general. They aren’t a small group, either; they are comprised of around 50 members. Additionally, it is crucially important to remember that representatives’ first concern is to their constituents – and thereby, their job. In the wake of defunding Medicaid, it was revealed by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that around 18 million people would lose their coverage if Obamacare was abandoned. This wouldn’t and didn’t sit well with many people who ran to their town hall meetings to berate their representatives. Trumpcare’s unpopularity had become politically toxic and many Republicans saw this.
In the aftermath of President Trump and Paul Ryan’s blunder, it has been proposed that perhaps now is the time for Democrats to pass a universal coverage bill. This is assumed to be of the single payer insurance kind where the state administers an insurance tax to everyone and those who are sick use the money to seek medical treatment. The state in this model essentially acts as a giant insurance company. To many, especially in our current distrust of free markets carrying out coverage effectively, this sounds heavenly. I believe this to be largely impossible.
This is not only because Democrats are a minority in the House and Senate, though there is that. To understand my point, we need only look some countries who have universal coverage in various forms: Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, Japan, France, belgium, Switzerland, Israel . Perhaps you’ll notice a trend, then. All these countries have remarkably homogenous populations.
Diversity and our history of immigration has propelled the United States into success, different peoples with perhaps the latest and best ideas flock here to earn a living because they know they have the best chance to make something of themselves here. The United States is not a melting pot, as the individual components do not change. It is more like a tossed salad. A tossed salad where sometimes the carrots hate the tomatoes or the lettuce is tired of the croutons being on them. Racial and religious differences stoked under President Trump has only served to divide the country more and the idea of unifying it, even for the better of the whole, is looking like a pipe dream.
What then, can be done to improve healthcare? In the near future, nothing. President Trump has said that, in the failure of his plan, that Americans will be stuck with Obamacare for the foreseeable future. President Trump has said, “nobody knew health care could be so complicated.” Obviously, most intelligent people did know. We can only have faith that our elected representatives are intelligent enough to determine a coherent plan of action.