Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed, striking it down was a Republican priority. The piece of legislation produced visceral hatred because it was seen as an expansion of the federal government instead of valuing the fact that it reduced the number of people without health insurance to historically low levels in the U.S. Ideological principle prevailed over the indisputable benefits.
The appointment of Congressman Tom Price to lead the Department of Health and Human Services is the stab wound to President Obama’s program, the same that allowed 20 million citizens and working legal residents to have the peace of mind of having health coverage.
The ACA, or Obamacare, has several issues. These stem from the difficulty of wanting to improve one aspect of the extremely complex U.S. medical system but not the rest of it; from the GOP opposition in states that sabotaged its implementation, and from Congress’s refusal to make the necessary adjustments that arise with legislation of this sort. If any doubts about the animosity against the law remain, we must remember that the lower chamber voted to repeal it 60 times in six years.
For Republicans, eliminating and replacing the ACA means restoring the doctor-patient relationship when the time comes to make decisions, taking the government out of the equation. However, it was never that way.
This romantic vision ignores the fact that neither doctors nor patients used to decide whether to perform a treatment or prescribe a drug. It was health insurance companies who made these decisions, accepting or rejecting charges with no control. That is the past to which they want to return.
The health insurance industry was one of the areas most impacted by Obamacare. They were the ones who had to offer coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions, who were not allowed to raise their premiums more than three-fold or the deductibles for the youngest and oldest patients, and they were forced to provide a minimum coverage package.
All this disappears if ACA is replaced by Price’s health law, the only one to ever reach Obama and which the president vetoed. The rhetoric about putting patients first – when their health will be left to the financial convenience of the insurance industry, as they intend to do now – is false.