Is Trump ready to face consequences of repealing ObamaCare?


Repealing ObamaCare has been an easy vote for Republicans as long as President Obama was there with his veto.

Will it get harder when the actual consequences of a repeal must be faced, starting with 22 million people losing their coverage, which will cause the death of 26,500 Americans? And on top of that, health insurance premiums will skyrocket much faster than anything we saw this year.

{mosads}The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 22 million Americans will lose health coverage if a repeal plan like that passed in 2015 by the Congress were to become law. We know from Massachusetts that for every 830 people who get coverage, one life will be saved.

That would mean more than 26,500 Americans would die each year because they didn’t get lifesaving medical care.

I’ve met these people, like the young man who told me that he found out in the nick of time that he had stage-four cancer, and was saved by his new ObamaCare coverage. I met the relatives of people who died before the Affordable Care Act (or ACA, the official name of ObamaCare) was passed because they couldn’t get the care they needed.

I will always remember the Pennsylvania woman who told me her brother, a laid-off steelworker, died because he could not afford to have his pacemaker replaced.

In their ideological fervor to oppose our government helping to pay for health coverage for its citizens, the right wing has ignored the human consequences. I doubt that President-Elect Donald Trump has thought about this, not when repealing ObamaCare was an easy applause line for his core supporters.

But what about when many of those supporters come to see that people they know will lose their health coverage?

A repeal will send individual health insurance premiums through the roof, with increases dwarfing anything we’ve seen this year. That is because Republicans only need 51 votes through the budget process to end the tax credits that make the ACA affordable and to reverse Medicaid expansion.

Fortunately they will not be able to repeal basic health insurance protections, like the prohibition against denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions and the requirement that insurance companies do not put a cap on annual or lifetime payments.

Democrats will be able to filibuster the repeal of these very popular provisions, which cannot be done through the budget process.

The combination of protecting people from their coverage being denied while also removing subsidies to make insurance affordable will send health insurance premiums through the roof. It will be a spectacular case of the challenges the ACA has had this year, where the pool of people has more health problems than expected.

Today, the ObamaCare tax credits result in millions of people who are in decent health paying for coverage. Without those tax credits, only the sickest people will do whatever they can to get coverage. That will send premiums skyward and plunge the individual insurance market into a death spiral, with many more companies refusing to sell any kind of individual health insurance.

It will make the problems that the ACA exchanges had this year look like a day at the beach.

While Republicans don’t want to hear this, most Americans do not want the ACA repealed. Polling consistently shows that only one out of three favors repeal, compared with half who would prefer that the ACA be expanded or kept as is.

Trump has pledged to ask Congress, on “day one” of his administration, to fully repeal ObamaCare.

Will anyone tell him what that would actually mean?

Will the new president cause 26,500 people to die and millions more to lose their coverage? Will he wreck the ability of individuals who are not covered at work to get any affordable insurance?

Will he be ready for the headlines of 100 percent price increases in premiums all across the country?

We’ll soon find out.

Kirsch is a senior adviser to People’s Action Institute and a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

Tags Donald Trump
See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video