While the pleasure for Democrats over the TrumpCare bill getting dropped is understandable, this should not be taken to mean that the Affordable Care Act has been saved and is now comfortably home free and warmly safe. That's not even remotely close to the truth.
The reality is that there are many individual features of the ACA that can be adjusted -- and negatively so -- by the Department of Health and Human Services, and I think it's safe to assume that Secretary Tom Price will attempt to do that. Even further, it must be remembered that there is currently a lawsuit filed by the Republican Congress against the government subsidies which are paid to those most in need who sign up for the program. Though that suit would have been aggressively defended by the Justice Department if the case had came to court when the Obama Administration was still in office, that has changed, and the so question is now whether Trump will defend the lawsuit, not only just as aggressively -- but at all? I think if you are someone who likes to bet, putting your money on "not at all" might be the safe money.
The point being that the Affordable Care Act is still under serous bombardment from Republicans and the Trump administration.
That said, it's important that Republicans realize there is a real risk for them to push ahead with their plans to dismantle ObamaCare. For starters, as we've seen, the public actually likes the program and even loves many of the existing provisions a great deal. So, trying to rid of those provisions yet again will again bring about the exact same outrage. To think otherwise is a fool's errand. But beyond that, the risks are even greater --
It's one thing, after all, to "repeal and replace," to just get rid of a law in its entirety as one general entity and quickly replace it with other provisions. Although doing that didn't go well for the GOP last week, it's at least an understandable concept. And the main reason it didn't work because the replacements offered were so awful, starting with 24 million people losing their health coverage.
But it's another thing for a political party and an administration to piece-by-piece dismantle a program one provision at a time with the fullness of attention on what they're specifically doing, and have your own name branded to a specific action that directly hurts people. If you do that, then it's not only All On You -- but it's on you with a bright klieg light intensely shining on it, highlighting what you're doing with each cut and with your name emblazoned across it all.
To put it simply: it's one thing to take a good, popular program and fix flaws to make it better. It's another thing entirely to dismantle it, and make it crash and burn. That's on you. And your actions can't be hidden inside a 15,000 page document. Your actions will each be front and center.
So, though Republicans and Trump will likely still attempt to tear down the Affordable Care Act, it will still be difficult, and if they succeed -- which is very possible -- they can pay a disastrous Price. (Pun unintended, but recognized.)
Regardless what happens to the Affordable Care Act on a piece-by-piece basis, however, it's worth noting that there is one specific benefit from the failure of the TrumpCare bill. And it's that in Trump's first Really Big Bill brought before Congress -- it crashed and burned. And that generally has long-term, devastating effect on an administration. Among many things, above all it tells its party's representatives how little that administration will have (or be able to have) members' backs in the future. Moreover, the bill failed because Republicans themselves -- holding the House, Senate and White House -- fought among one another and showed contradictory interests. And this was highlighted even more afterwards as Trump began pointing fingers throughout in his party -- including at the conservative "Freedom" Caucus and even Speaker Paul Ryan -- indeed at everyone but himself.
In fact, Trump even promoted a "Fox News" show that opened with a scathing attack on Speaker Ryan, calling for his removal. How huge a rift is that?? (Interestingly, the White House later insisted that that was purely coincidental and that Trump was merely promoting the show to help a friend. The awful thing is, even if we accept the word of the White House on this -- a deeply risky venture, to be sure -- that then means Trump was promoting a product, which as we've seen recently is actually an ethics violation, the sort of thing that got Kellyanne Conway, Ivanka Trump, and others in the hot seat.)
The point being -- ObamaCare might be saved for the moment, but...health care is so complicated. And contrary to Trump, everyone knew that. And are still seeing it now.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor