News & Politics

Republicans Are Trying to Dismantle American Health Care While No One Is Watching

The party is making health coverage more expensive and pricing people out of the system.

Photo Credit: United Workers

With the eyes of the country on them, Republicans completely failed to live up to their promise of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

But as the country focuses on other issues, the party continues its work to undermine the health care law, while offering the American people nothing better in its place.

A new report from the Urban Institute found that more than 6.4 million fewer people will have health insurance by 2019 because of the Republicans' efforts to undermine the law, while another 2.5 million will only have limited insurance that doesn't cover a minimum set of essential health benefits. Premiums will also rise 16.4 percent on average next year, the report projects.

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How are Republicans undermining the law?

One major tactic was the repeal in December 2017 of the individual mandate to buy health insurance. This means fewer young, healthy people are likely to sign up for insurance, which raises premiums for everyone else and pushes more people out of the market.

Another tactic is the expansion of short-term health insurance plans, which can offer minimal coverage, exclude people with pre-existing conditions, and put annual and lifetime caps on spending.

Meanwhile, Republican leaders in 20 states filed a new lawsuit Monday aiming to overturn all of the ACA over the constitutionality of the individual mandate. This case is patently ridiculous on its face, since the Supreme Court has already ruled that the mandate is constitutional, and the GOP voted to eliminate the mandate's financial penalty in its 2017 tax bill. Nevertheless, it shows the party's continued abhorrence of the widely popular health insurance program.

What are the political implications for Republicans?

Nearly 20 million gained coverage because of the ACA, and the Republicans want to wipe out all those gains. Aside from being bad policy, these efforts are terrible politics.

A new poll says that 65 percent of Democrats are particularly motivated to vote on the issue of health care, more than any other issue polled. Another 40 percent of Republicans also say they care about the issue.

As the 2018 midterms roll around — around the time new data will be released on 2019 health costs — the last thing the GOP wants voters thinking about is how much Republicans have done to make health care worse in this country.

Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.