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Is There Still Hope for the ACA? Or Something Even Better?

Healthcare is one of the most contentious issues for American politicians and civilians, perhaps on a par with immigration and gun control. Understandably, how the 325 million people in the U.S. access their healthcare is going to impact voting strategies and therefore, healthcare is politicized.

We’re taking a look at how this was manifested in the political sphere in recent years, and more importantly how Democratic candidates are capitalizing on these events, mainly, the GOP’s failure to repeal the ACA to in order to form one of the most powerful policy points in their campaigns.

Despite the fact that America is one of the top global economic powers, it is the only industrialized nation worldwide lacking universal healthcare coverage. In 2010, 62 percent of bankruptcies came from exceptionally high healthcare costs.

Obama made certain efforts toward universal healthcare through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While it was a step in the right direction for many, it did have a few flaws (doesn’t everything?). Nevertheless, because of Obamacare, approximately 20 million Americans who had previously had no healthcare gained coverage.

The Obama administration made steps toward a public option for healthcare, last year 60 percent of Americans said they believed the federal government was responsible for delivering healthcare to its entire population. This was the largest number of people ever to feel that way.

Naturally, the ACA was a particularly controversial act that Republicans opposed. The idea of Obamacare lies in contradiction to Republicans’ supposed aversion to further state involvement, or interference in citizens’ lives. One of Trump’s major promises during the 2016 Presidential election was to repeal the ACA and replace it.

May 4, 2018, marked the one year anniversary of Republicans’ vote to repeal and replace the ACA — it was the first vote in the month-long effort to repeal it. However, it failed in the Senate. As Professor of Health Policy at Harvard, Robert Blendon said, “ It’s not that people are entirely happy with Obamacare, it’s simply that repealing it — and voting to that effect — means taking away healthcare from 23 million people.”

Republicans electing to enforce this repeal, and without having a successful free-market style replacement, simply leaves a bad taste in the mouths of constituents and voters — particularly those who could have their healthcare revoked. And it should.

Democrats know, though, that being outnumbered by Republicans, they may have to find a way to make the ACA work better for everyone, and make the idea of an alternative to “Trumpcare” palatable to Republicans. As a result, Democrats have been hard at work putting fresh ideas on the table.

In March, Elizabeth Warren put forth a proposed plan that acts as an expansion to the ACA. Senators Merkley and Murphy proposed the “Choose Medicare Act” which aims to allow anybody to gain Medicaid at a cost comparable to other insurance plans. Democrats are putting many other various plans on the table in hopes of finding an acceptable compromise.

Republicans face an extremely strong campaign message from Democratic candidates: Obamacare is not perfect, but let’s build on it to hopefully deliver a public option, which 60 percent of Americans believe is correct. The concept of taking away healthcare access from 24 million citizens won’t be tolerated.