Right now, the answer to that is NO. But that doesn’t mean there were no efforts to try and get all or at least parts of it repealed. House Republicans have tried, and as of last count, they have voted more than 50 times to get The Affordable Care Act (ACA) repealed. Then again, President Barack Obama – who signed the act into law – is only in office through 2016.
The election campaigns for 2016 have kicked off, and there have been two Republican debates so far. The first debate was held in August 2015, and Obamacare was barely mentioned. Two of the most vocal candidates were Scott Walker and Ted Cruz. The second debate was held in September, but yet again, nothing much has been said about Obamacare.
For a party that has tried ever since the law was signed to have it repealed, why hasn’t it been heard more in debates? That said, the plan to repeal the law has appeared in campaigns, with the first being in Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s campaign. Although he has now exited the Republican presidential race, he did back in August, release a plan replacing ACA with something that combined tax benefits and deregulation which would result in affordable insurance but with less government control.
All the Republican candidates for president said they would repeal the law, but what is missing is how exactly would they do it. Apart from walker, only two of the still-in-the-running presidential candidates have released plans: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Senator Marco Rubio.
In case the Republicans win both the White House and Congress come 2016, there is a chance that they would be open to legislation repealing Obamacare. But until that happens, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay.
Opposition to Obamacare
The legislation was opposed by conservative advocacy groups, some small business organizations, the Tea Party movement and Congressional and a lot of state Republicans. They believe that ACA will disrupt existing health plans, increase costs due to new insurance standards and spike the deficit even higher.
Detractors of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – the actual name of the law – have brought their complaints on multiple occasions. On June 28, 2012, in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court ruled that the individual mandate provision of ACA is constitutional. The court also ruled that states can’t be forced to participate in Medicaid expansion which meant that certain states can choose not to support that provision in the law.
In the King v. Burwell case, the Supreme Court ruled on June 25, 2015 that ACA’s federal subsidies used to assist Americans in paying for health insurance are available in all states and not just in those that have set up state exchanges.
Republican Efforts to Repeal ACA
Republicans have made numerous attempts to repeal ACA in Congress; they were all unsuccessful in the 111th, 112th and 113th Congresses. Among the earliest protesters were US House Representatives Steve King and Michele Bachmann who introduced bills to repeal Obamacare one day after it was signed. Senator Jim DeMint of the US Senate also introduced a similar bill.
2011 was the year the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives. Surely, one of the first things tackled was a bill called Repealing the Job Killing Health Care Law Act which was passed with a 245-189 vote with all Republicans as well as three Democrats voting to repeal ACA. The bill was voted down in the Senate when it was offered as an amendment to a bill that was unrelated. But President Barack Obama has said that he would have vetoed the bill had it passed both chambers of Congress.
The year 2012 was a re-election year for President Obama, and a lot of Republicans agreed that a repeal of ACA was not likely to occur.
In 2013, the US government shut down for 16 days because both the Republicans and the Democrats couldn’t come to an agreement on a spending plan because they kept arguing over Obamacare.
The 67th ACA repeal vote was added by the House of Representatives on February 3, 2015 with a 239-186 vote. After yet another failure, Democrats have called the repeated efforts a waste of time. Democrats also emphasized that for a party that has wanted to get rid of ACA, the Republicans have done nothing in terms of replacing Obacare. As Washington Representative Jim McDermott puts it: “They have no plan and they know it.”
The Bigger Picture
The Affordable Care Act has been in place since 2013 – that’s two years. Millions of Americans have signed up for the program since then, and will still be growing until such a time an agreement to repeal is arrived (and a more suitable replacement is created). What happens then? Millions of American citizens will be affected by such a change. In fact, the move will be so disruptive and costly.
The Neverending Obamacare Debate
In July 2015, House Speaker John Boehner filed a lawsuit stating that the White House gave money to insurance companies which Congress did not authorize. The lawsuit was predicted to fail because they believed Congress couldn’t show proof that the Obama administration did what they were accused of.
To the surprise of many, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the House of Representatives could in fact sue the Obama administration for ACA. Should that case succeed, things won’t look to pretty for a piece of legislation aimed at helping lower income individuals gain access to affordable healthcare. Or, it could go in the way of previous complaints: nowhere and a waste of time.
Then again, this doesn’t mean that the ruling of the district court is the final word on the subject. Appeals courts above it will still need to decide, and they could always vote in the other direction.
But nevertheless, after so many tries, opponents of Obamacare finally have something to smile about. That said, this also means that Obamacare complaints will go on and on.