If you've been following the news, you probably know that the fight surrounding the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has picked up steam. Since the 115th Congress reconvened earlier this week, the GOP has been taking the first steps to dismantle the program. And on Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that Republicans will move toward defunding Planned Parenthood as part of their efforts to get rid of Obamacare. It's not surprising that the Republican party has moved so quickly and aggressively to repeal the program. Despite the fact that the ACA provides health insurance to over 20 million people, it has been a point of contention between Democrats and Republicans for a long time. And now, the GOP counts on the support of president-elect Donald Trump, who has vowed to get rid of Obamacare once he comes into office. But what will actually happen if the program gets repealed? What's the plan B? Keep reading, because we'll break down everything you need to know about the Affordable Care Act and what will happen if the incoming administration manages to scrap it.
What's Obamacare, and why do people want to dismantle it?The Affordable Care Act is a collection of health insurance and industry reforms that were passed in 2010. Healthcare reform was one of the top priorities of President Obama, and the ACA is also commonly known as Obamacare. Thanks to this program, a lot of people have been able to get insured — including 6.1 million previously uninsured young adults between the ages of 19 and 25. This was possible because the act changed the way the individual insurance market works and also expanded Medicaid, which has helped many low-income Americans get healthcare coverage. Obamacare also includes policies that go beyond health insurance: Senior citizens are paying less money for their Medicare coverage, women have had access to free contraceptives and mammograms, and certain restaurants are required to post calories listings. But since it passed, the ACA has been controversial, to say the least. The GOP has argued that the program has ruined the healthcare system, overwhelmingly increased premiums, and has left millions of people uninsured. Many Republicans have stretched the facts, however.
Can it be repealed easily?Kind of. Through the years, there have been over 50 tries to get rid of Obamacare. But now that Trump is coming into office, he can start undoing parts of the program through a series of executive actions. In fact, vice-president elect Mike Pence said on Wednesday that the incoming administration's "first order of business is to repeal and replace Obamacare." The Republican-controlled Congress can also take steps to ensure the program is dismantled, from passing a budget resolution that will protect future repeal legislations from a filibuster to finding a replacement for Obamacare.
So they still don't know what will substitute the program?Not yet. There's some push-and-pull among members of the Republican Party on the financial components of the replacement and other pesky details they should probably figure out before killing the ACA. After all, according to NBC News, some members of the GOP have said that it could take up to four years after repealing Obamacare for a new program to be implemented. What will happen with the millions insured thanks to the ACA remains unclear.
Okay, so how will this affect me?To start off, you would need to say goodbye to that free IUD and similar contraceptives. And if you work in a place with 50 or more full-time employees, the company might no longer be required to provide affordable health insurance. Annual or lifetime caps for benefits could make a return. Repealing the program may also be bad news if you are under the age of 26 and still on your parents' health care. Without the ACA, insurance companies would no longer be required to keep you on your folks' plan. But most affected will be low-income adults who were able to enroll in Medicaid thanks to the ACA, and both senior citizens and people on disability, who may have to pay even higher premiums. Unless the Republican party and the Trump administration come up with a killer replacement for Obamacare, it seems like everyone is in for a difficult journey on the quest for fair health care over the next several years.