Republicans Should Repeal and Replace their Misguided Stance on Obamacare

FILE - In this March 26, 2019 file photo, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., joined at left by Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone, D-N.J., speaks at an event to announce legislation to lower health care costs and protect people with pre-existing medical conditions, at the Capitol in Washington. If former President Barack Obama’s health law is struck down entirely, Congress would face an impossible task: pass a comprehensive health overhaul to replace it that both Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Donald Trump can agree to. The failed attempt to repeal “Obamacare” in 2017 proved to be toxic for congressional Republicans in last year’s midterm elections and they are in no mood to repeat it. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

In 2010, then-President Barack Obama signed into law a federal statute centered around healthcare insurance. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known colloquially as Obamacar, is intended to benefit healthcare consumers across the board (i.e. those with preexisting conditions, those of a young age, those who require preventive services, etc.). 

Unfortunately, Obamacare also epitomizes Republicans’ tendency to obstruct progression purely for the sake of political gain. In yet another vain attempt to fulfill one of his infamous campaign promises, President Donald Trump has renewed his attacks on Obamacare and vowed to get the law overturned. But if they know what’s best for them, Republicans and their constituents instead will repeal and replace their misguided stance on an imperfect, yet greatly valuable healthcare system.

I’ll begin with arguably the more clear-cut argument, which is that Republican constituents stand to benefit from a more open-minded approach toward Obamacare. As I’ve mentioned already, Obamacare prohibits health insurance providers from discriminating against those with pre-existing medical conditionsOur current healthcare legislation also allows young adults (e.g. a vast majority of you reading this article currently) to remain on their parents’ plan until age 26, at which point they can transition smoothly via a “Special Enrollment Period.” Moreover, those with Obamacare coverage may not have to pay any additional expenses for preventive health services (e.g. screenings, vaccinations, and counseling).

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) notes further that “the current law prohibits health plans from putting annual or lifetime dollar limits on most benefits you receive,” and it gives us the respective rights to “curb insurance cancellations” and “appeal health plan decisions.”  As late-night host Jimmy Kimmel has outlined so effectively, many average Americans are unaware that “Obamacare” and “the Affordable Care Act” refer to the same legislation.  

Although admittedly such blissful ignorance is somewhat amusing, it’s mostly upsetting that people aren’t being provided with the proper information and/or conducting the most basic research on the matter. For better or worse, these individuals seem to associate the healthcare legislation’s merits exclusively with Obama’s likeness (or lack thereof) as opposed to exploring said legislation more closely. Perhaps instead of merely mocking those who don’t know the synonymous nature of “Obamacare” and “the Affordable Care Act” and consequently criticize the law, we should better inform them about the connection and allow them to arrive at their own conclusions once they learn about the benefits I’ve described.

Believe it or not, Republican politicians also might have more to gain from abandoning their fruitless plot to abolish Obamacare. For one, they would appear much less stubborn and ignorant in the court of public opinion; after all, sometimes I feel as though Obama could’ve passed legislation that called for world peace and a billion-dollar annual income for every American, yet Republican legislators still would’ve obstructed its enactment simply because of its connotation with a black, Democratic president.  

A greater willingness to cooperate with members of the opposing major political party would cast Republican congressmen and women in a much more favorable light, especially given the vitriolic political climate under which we currently live. Additionally, Republicans’ backing of a worthwhile proposal like Obamacare might aid a more self-serving motivation to win reelection (although I actually don’t mind this as long as we receive sensible, adequate amenities in return). Lastly, Trump and other Republicans’ extreme, all-or-nothing approach doesn’t help in this situation; if they have such strong anti-Obamacare sentiments, they should at least devise an appealing alternative (or one at all, for that matter) and ease us into a more gradual transition.

Of course this is much easier said than done, but we should prioritize country over party in order to provide satisfactory healthcare for all Americans. As Obama himself has admitted, there’s still room for improvement regarding our nation’s healthcare legislation; but Trump’s abrasive, wayward approach leaves much to be desired. Although Trump claims to be an expert in practically every domain-- he’s not exactly a humble man who acknowledges his shortcomings--his inane commentary hampers his credibility significantly (I mean, just think about all the hot air he’s been blowing about the downsides of integrating wind energy and other environmentally friendly initiatives!) 

Ultimately, Obama and his presidential accomplishments are the white whale to Trump and current Republican legislators’ Captain Ahab, whose futile attempts to eradicate Obama’s name and contributions from existence consequently may ensure their own demise (politically speaking, at least). However, Trump and other Republican politicians can allow this to remain a fictitious tale if they come to their senses and don’t overextend their power. If they don’t rock the boat too much, perhaps we won't grow seasick and toss them overboard into whale-infested waters. 


Michael Katz is a contributor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email michael.katz@uconn.edu.