“Repeal and replace.” That phrase was as prevalent during the campaign as “build the wall.”
Republicans have been talking for years about dismantling the Affordable Care Act, known more commonly as Obamacare. But now that Donald Trump has moved into the Oval Office, and after the president signed an executive order “to seek the prompt repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” GOP lawmakers are having trouble explaining exactly how they plan to improve upon Obamacare.
The New York Times wrote in an editorial that “it’s increasingly evident that [Republicans] have no workable plan and might never come up with one.”
As GOP leaders begin to soften their tone and redefine their meaning of “repeal,” polls show that public support for the Affordable Care Act has never been higher.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll has tracked public opinion of the health care law since 2009. At the beginning of 2015, 30 percent of people thought it was a good idea while 50 percent said it was a bad idea.
According to the New York Times, that same “poll in January  indicated for the first time that more people viewed the health law as a good idea than as a bad one,” as 45 percent said good vs 41 percent bad.
A Fox News poll had similar results. In March 2015, 38 percent favored the law against 58 percent against. In January 2017, the same poll showed 50 percent favored vs 46 percent against.
While support for the health law is at a high, there may be some confusion about the program. The New York Times published results of a Morning Consult poll that showed almost one third of the public does not realize Obamacare is the Affordable Care Act.
According to the poll, 17 percent of Americans believe that Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are different policies and another 18 percent didn’t know if they were the same or different.
In a Super Bowl pregame interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, President Trump walked back his timeline to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare. “I would like to say, by the end of the year, at least the rudiments, but we should have something within the year and the following year,” Trump said.
Even conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation are beginning to realize “repeal and replace” may not be as easy as a campaign slogan.
James Wallner, vice president of research for the Heritage Foundation, wrote on the organization’s news blog The Daily Signal that “the effort to repeal Obamacare may be headed in the wrong direction.” According to Wallner, “the latest replacement plan floated by some Republicans on Capitol Hill fails to even repeal Obamacare. Instead,” he said, “it locks it in.”
While House Speaker Paul Ryan tried to clean up the president’s statement by keeping a timeline in place, he, too, is preparing for the possibility that it may be extended.
“We are going to be done legislating with respect to health care and Obamacare this year,” Ryan said during a Tuesday news conference. “The question about how long it takes to effectuate the change, how long it takes to put these things in place, that’s a question that the HHS [Department of Health and Human Services] can answer,” he said.
By Brad Broker, Physicians News