When the initial Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, were pulled from House consideration in late March, healthcare’s time in the spotlight seemed to be over. While the dismissal of the initial legislative efforts could easily be interpreted as a loss for Republicans and a win for Democrats, the story is just beginning to unfold. This extra time gives lawmakers another chance at improving the Affordable Care Act.
The dismissed plan was met with backlash from moderate Republicans and Democrats who claimed the new legislation would cause more harm than good to the current healthcare act. For example, the Congressional Budget Office reported that by 2026, an estimated additional 24 million people would be uncovered by the new legislation than if the ACA remained unchanged in that time.
The ACA was pushed through the House with no votes from Republicans. While it is not without faults, the ACA has made some strides in the right direction such as allowing people to purchase coverage regardless of a pre-existing condition. However, the ACA is in need of a revamp, which involves bipartisan collaboration.
Just because the initial efforts to repeal and replace the ACA failed, there is still a long way to go in the search for a policy that provides Americans with affordable, universal healthcare.
In fact, a survey from the Commonwealth Fund conducted four years after the ACA was signed into legislation ranked the United States lowest out of the 11 most industrialized developed nations in overall healthcare. It was also rated lowest in efficiency, access due to cost, equity and healthy lives.
Something as important as healthcare, which affects Americans so often and so directly, shouldn’t be a political topic that gets its 15 minutes of fame only when a new bill offers change. The discussion about how to make the ACA the most effective and affordable public healthcare policy it can be should involve everyone —Democrats and Republicans — and it should be an ongoing conversation. Now more than ever, improvements to the ACA should be considered, discussed and evaluated.
While Republicans have renewed efforts to address healthcare reform, according to the New York Times, House Speaker Paul Ryan declined to outline the new version of the bill or the timeline of that bill. House Democrats, led by Nancy Pelosi, have also begun to consider improvements and updates to the ACA, according to the New York Times.
Regardless of political affiliation, citizens need to make it clear that the improving the ACA needs to be at the top of every lawmaker’s agenda. After all, it’s a topic that influences each citizen daily and about one-fifth of the American economy. Something this significant deserves more than one week of intensive coverage every few years — it warrants consistent communication between citizens, health care providers, lawmakers and everyone in between.