Healthcare has been one of the crucial agenda for the governing party in the US for the past few terms. When the Republicans ran Congress in 2017, they could not come up with a unanimous plan to replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), more commonly known as Obamacare. And now, when it is the turn for the Democrats to address the healthcare issue, they also seem to have a difference in opinions among themselves.
Once the government re-opens, the Democrats are likely to face a number of issues, among which the retention of Obamacare is going to remain at the top. It is believed that the issue of healthcare is going to play a major role in the campaign to deny President Trump a second term in the upcoming presidential election.
Opinion #1: Defending the Affordable Care Act
According to CNN, a Texas district judge declared the landmark health reform law was unconstitutional, supporting the coalition of the states led by Republicans challenging the Affordable Care Act. Previously, the judge ruled that Obamacare will remain in effect, pending an appeal from the Democratic states including California.
Defending Obamacare‘s protection for those with pre-existing conditions allowed the Democrats to retake the House of Representatives in the midterm elections. It was quite evident that the provisions compelled the carriers to deliver comprehensive policies and restricted insurers from denying consumer’s coverage or overcharging them because their health history became the most popular thing in the whole Affordable Care Act.
The CNN report reveals that Richard Neal, the chairman of Incoming Ways and Means Committee, has repeatedly criticized Republicans for trying to “sabotage health coverage.” The report also states that the Massachusetts Democrat has promised to make quick moves to cement the pre-existing conditions of the health reform law.
Neal told in a statement that the Democrats would do whatever it takes to ensure the protections preserved in the Affordable Care Act endure. According to him, the lives and wellbeing of millions of Americans, including the ones living with pre-existing conditions are on the line.
In March 2018, three lawmakers introduced a bill that would allow more people to qualify for the premium and cost-sharing subsidies of Obamacare. Apparently, it would have provided more funding for enrollment marketing and outreach and would have barred the Trump administration from expanding alternative policies that don’t need to follow all the rules outlined in Obamacare.
Opinion #2: Support for Medicare for All
Medicare for all, a single-payer healthcare, is also likely to draw much attention as it is deemed controversial by many. However, it is less likely to get passed in the Republican-controlled Senate. And even if it does, it is next to impossible to get signed into law by the President himself, who has criticized the concept openly in public.
The Medicare for All Congressional Caucus, which was launched in July 2018 by Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan, has 70 representatives in it at the very least. The vocal group of Democrats plans to confirm that the concept of Medicare for all remains top of the mind in the new Congress.
Interestingly, Jayapal plans on introducing a revised bill in the next Congress to push for a debate. She told Politico’s Pulse Check podcast in December 2018 that they could actually have a debate and the American people could decide if that was a crazy, radical idea or if they wanted their elected representative to actually make it happen.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent and champion of Medicare for All calls for developing a health insurance plan that would be run by the federal government and would cover all the countrymen, replacing the current job-based policies that only cover half of the nation (approximately).
The aforementioned effort, which is supposed to roll out over four years, would cover all medical care, along with dental and vision with no premiums and nominal out-of-pocket expenses. The bill released by Sen. Sanders in 2017 called for consumers to pay up to $250 for prescription drugs.
Henry Peterson, the marketing manager at an online assignment help provider – Assignmenthelp.us, mentioned in a statement that this bill could revolutionize the healthcare system in the US. He also added that people who didn’t qualify for Obamacare will at least have a similar option regarding healthcare coverage.
Sanders acknowledges the fact that this plan is going to be expensive (ranging to trillions of dollars), and might also involve raising taxes on the businesses and individuals. However, he also puts stress on the fact that Americans would still support this plan as they would no longer require paying premiums, deductibles or co-pays.
New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone, however, does not think the Medicare for All movement will achieve success in the new Congress. Even though he used to advocate for a single-payer system, he now states that “the votes aren’t there.” He told the Asbury Park Press in December 2018 that they need to concentrate on the efforts to stabilize the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, especially when the Trump administration is continuously trying to sabotage it.
Opinion #3: Medicare buy-in bills
Medicare buy-in bills are another set of proposals that haven’t received enough attention from the representatives. In fact, it has various iterations in the House and Senate. The proposals, however, would allow the younger citizens to buy entry into Medicare, which currently covers almost everyone over the age of 65.
A bill, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins of New York and John Larson and Joe Courtney of Connecticut, was supposed to open Medicare to the people over the age of 50 who don’t have access to coverage from the government or their employers. People who qualify for Obamacare could use that program to help pay for the premiums.
Higgins believes that this buy-in bill would not cost the federal government a single penny unlike Medicare for All, as people would pay their own way. However, their premiums would be 40 percent less than a gold-level plan on the Obamacare exchanges.
In exchange for Higgins’ support in reclaiming the speakership, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi promised Higgins a “good faith effort” to get the bill through in the new Congress (as stated by Higgins himself). Richard Neal has also shown his support, as per Higgins, and promised hearings “very soon.”
Higgins has also exclaimed that the development of a brand new, all-public health insurance system requires time when it comes to approval, designing and funding. He also added that they need this now to support the portion of the citizens who need the protection now.
Opinion #4: Lowering the prices of prescription drugs
Lastly, this is an issue where both Republicans and Democrats share a similar set of opinions – lowering the cost of prescription drugs. As a matter of fact, representatives on both the parties, including the Trump administration have made an attempt to address this issue. Apparently, Democrats are more likely to take up this issue but stress more on the high list of prices on drug manufacturers.
Nancy Pelosi, who is expected to get the position of House Speaker, has pledged following the midterms that lower drug costs would be treated with the highest priority. Rep Elijah Cummings of Maryland, who is going to chair the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has made the promise to hold hearings on drug costs.
Rep. Cummings, alongside Reps. Lloyd Doggett of Texas and Peter Welch of Vermont came up with a bill in the summer of 2018 that allowed Medicate to negotiate the prices of drugs. A number of Democrats argue that it is a plan to lower the bill. Interestingly, the bill has more than 100 co-sponsors.
As per the report published in CNN, Cummings exclaimed that a lot of people still cannot afford medicines that are prescribed by their doctors, which is sad. He also added that it is a life and death situation which requires immediate attention.
As we proceed towards the 2020 Presidential primary season, we will have a clearer idea about how the Democrats address the healthcare topic. Whatever the final decision is, it will definitely have an impact on the next presidential election in the United States.
Suhana Williams is an academic writer who also provides assignment help through Assignmenthelp.us. She has contributed to several journals with her insight on placement opportunities in the modern era. Suhana loves to cook when she is not working.