Obamacare rules. Whether you love it or hate it, or neither, Obamacare has survived many years of attempts to overthrow it as the law of the land. The most recent and climactic was the effort, led by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), which collapsed last week.

As reported here during the presidential campaign, the Republican Party platform and candidate Trump had no healthcare plan: their main thought, until a couple of weeks ago, was to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka “Obamacare”). Now, after 17 days of sound and fury, Speaker Ryan signified that he could not amass the votes in the House either to repeal or to replace the ACA. This failure was predicted here on the March 9 posting.

Ryan’s doomed replacement bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), would have increased the number of uninsured people by 24 million, per the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, while reducing federal spending by $337 billion by 2026. In his vote-counting, Ryan found himself opposed by House Democrats, Tea Party Republicans, and other Republicans who did not wish to run for re-election with a record of having stripped away health coverage for millions of people or to be seen as favoring a ploy to create a $337 billion fund that would allow Ryan to justify deep tax cuts.

What happened is that Trump, Ryan, and the Republicans did not have a plan that could be publicly defended as an improvement over the Affordable Care Act, which was created not in 17 days but over the course of a full year of excruciating public law-making. It appears that President Trump, defeated in his first attempt at passing legislation and with a 37% approval rating, has lost his taste for healthcare reform, while still predicting that “Obamacare will explode.”

In the meantime, Obamacare remains sturdily in place, as does the landmark Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, which requires group health plans and health insurers to provide mental health and substance use disorder (MH/SUD) coverage with benefits as favorable as those afforded for medical/surgical conditions. Between these two laws, tens of millions of people have access to good behavioral healthcare that they did not have a decade ago.

Piece by Robert Booth. Photo by Pete Souza – President Obama Signs Health Insurance Legislation Into Law, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9821547


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