On Friday, President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan withdrew their proposed Affordable Care Act (ACA) replacement bill, entitled the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The bill faced staunch opposition from both Democratic leaders and hard-line conservatives. This failure was a significant one for the new Trump administration, which made repealing and replacing Obamacare one of its central campaign promises. Now, what’s next for the ACA?
Over the last three months Republican leaders have struggled to offer an alternative to the ACA that would satisfy both sides of the aisle – and factions within the Republican members of the House – a challenge that proved too difficult for Trump and Ryan’s AHCA to overcome. Democrats have remained firmly opposed to the new bill, insisting Obamacare should be improved instead of repealed. No Democrats supported the AHCA.
Factions of the Republican members of the House also opposed the bill. The House Freedom Caucus withheld support for the bill because it did not satisfy their demands for fiscal and restrictive coverage. The Tuesday Group, a more moderate Republican faction of the House, also stood against the bill due to the proposed excessive cuts in several forms of coverage.
President Trump expressed his frustration with health care reform shortly after taking office, telling a group of state governors in late-February that “…it’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” Trump and Ryan killed the bill before putting it up for vote after it became clear that the bill would not pass in the House, let alone being “dead on arrival” had it reached the Senate.
In light of this striking failure, Obamacare will continue to live on under the Trump administration – at least for now. The President has insisted that the current law is unsustainable, but acknowledged the lack of support necessary to successfully repeal and replace the ACA. Trump has suggested he is willing to wait until the law fails of its own accord before putting forth another alternative.
“Obamacare unfortunately will explode…It’s going to have a very bad year,” the President said after the AHCA was pulled. “The best thing that could happen is exactly what happened – watch.”
In the meantime, the House Speaker mirrored the sentiment. “Obamacare is the law of the land…It’s going to remain the law of the land until it’s replaced,” Ryan told reporters on Friday.
“We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future,” he said.
For more on the failed American Health Care Act, check out the following articles:
“In Major Defeat for Trump, Push to Repeal Health Law Fails.” The New York Times, March 24, 2017.
“Healthcare Vote Cancelled as House GOP Balks at Bill.” Employee Benefit News, March 24, 2017.
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