Should Biden reinstate Obamacare?
- Joseph R. Biden, Jr. was inaugurated as the 46th president on Wednesday, January 20, 2021.
- On Biden’s first day in office, he rejoined the Paris Accords as well as the WHO, ordered a federal mask mandate, ended the Trump-era travel ban, as well as 13 other orders.
- Barack Obama was the 44th US President first elected in 2008. He went on to serve two terms, leaving office January 2017.
- President Obama first signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or ACA) into law on March 2010.
- Since the ACA’s inception, many lawsuits have been filed against its constitutional legitimacy, tax concerns, employer mandate concerns, etc.
The Affordable Care Act was a landmark reform that ensured access to healthcare for millions of uninsured individuals. President Biden should reinstate the signature legislation from the Obama years to ensure continued access during uncertain times. Very few people would argue that the Affordable Care Act was perfect, but meaningful healthcare reform takes time, especially with the Senate's razor-thin margins. Further, the legislative bodies need to prioritize Covid-19 response and getting assistance to the millions of Americans struggling due to the pandemic. Major healthcare reform can wait; in the meantime, President Biden should reinstate the Affordable Care Act.
The Affordable Care Act was wildly popular and led to roughly half of the millions of uninsured individuals getting health insurance. This popularity was evidenced by the Trump Administration's failed attempt to achieve a signature campaign promise; to repeal and replace Obamacare. John McCain, a key figure in the Republican party, broke ranks and ultimately doomed the repeal effort. A Bloomberg poll shows that the majority of Americans favor keeping the ACA with minor changes.
During the pandemic and uncertainty of future employment both in the short and long terms for millions of Americans, access to healthcare needs to be a priority. The Affordable Care Act was largely centered on ensuring access to health care, regardless of employment status, and driving down costs through the individual mandate. Given the high rates of unemployment and uncertainty of future work for millions, as well as the threat of prolonged illness as a result of the pandemic, it makes sense for President Biden to reinstate the Affordable Care Act.
President Biden should not reinstate Obamacare – it was a flawed initiative for several reasons—it failed to meet its stated goals of lower health care costs, better care, and universal coverage. Although its official name is the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare is a budget buster; entitlement spending has grown unabated since it was enacted in 2010 and now consumes more than half of the federal budget. Four trillion dollars was spent on healthcare in 2010, and that amount is expected to grow 5.4% annually until 2028.
Obama assured Americans that they could retain their doctor or insurer. However, an estimated 4.7 million people were dropped by their providers in 2013. PolitiFact labeled it 'Lie of the Year,' and Obama apologized for the 'promise.' A principal aim of Obamacare was to provide universal healthcare coverage as Democrats believe healthcare is a fundamental right, not a privilege. However, a decade after Obamacare was passed, 28 million Americans remain without health insurance.
Health care costs have steadily increased since Obamacare was enacted. Health care remains unaffordable for middle-class Americans who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid or federal subsidies to assist in buying an individual policy. Far from Obama's promised savings of $2500 per year, individual health insurance policy costs more than doubled in Obama's second term alone. Hospital care in the US costs 60% more than it does in Europe. Prescription costs in the US average two and a half times more than those in other developed countries. Obamacare was a clear and utter failure that punished hard working American families and the US economy. Knowing all this, President Biden should resist the impulse to reestablish Obamacare, relinquishing health care decisions back to the American people.