College of Law > Academics > Centers, Institutes & Initiatives > Mary and Michael Jaharis Health Law Institute > e-Pulse Blog > The Changing of the Guard

The Changing Of The Guard

Artist Monte Wolverton released a cartoon clip entitled, “Regime Change.” The cartoon depicts a statue of former President Obama as a doctor and the word “Obamacare” emblazoned on a sign at the bottom of the statue. Further, the picture shows members of the GOP pulling down and breaking the statue with ropes. One member of the statue vandalizers states, “what are we going to replace it with?,” while another responds, “who cares?” At first glance, this cartoon seems like a funny wisecrack at the GOP’s expense, but the cartoon holds some truth. I decided to do some investigating.

During the campaign trail to the November 2016 election, Donald Trump and his campaign staff promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), and replace the law “simultaneously” with something better in its place. Within hours after being sworn in, President Trump has taken the first steps in repealing the ACA. 

President Trump signed executive orders that instructed Secretary of Health and Human Services (SHHS), as well as other agencies, to interpret regulations as loosely as possible to minimize the financial burden on individuals, insurers, and health care providers. The order allows the SHHS to waive, defer, grant exemptions from or delay implementation of any provision or requirement that the Affordable Care Act requires, to “the maximum extent that is permitted by law.” The executive order directly targets the individual mandate of the ACA that penalizes citizens who do not enter the insurance marketplace by implementing a penalty tax.

Although Trump promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, no current cohesive replacement to the act has been presented by Trump’s administration or the majority led Congress. The Affordable Care Act insures more than 20 million Americans who were uninsured prior to the passage of the Act. During a recent Republican retreat in Philadelphia, GOP lawmakers seemed doubtful about reaching the long held promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Senate and House members voiced those concerns, at the private retreat. Moreover, the participants in the retreat were unsure where to begin with replacing the Affordable Care Act without guidance from President Trump or his administration.

Recordings of closed sessions in the retreat provided insight into some of the legislators’ perspective. Most of the lawmakers seemed more concerned about their reelection, as opposed to the millions of people who would be uninsured by a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. One lawmaker, Republican House Representative Tom McClintock, stated, “we better be sure that we’re prepared to live with the market we’ve created after repeal. That’s going to be called Trumpcare. Republicans will own that lock, stock, and barrel, and we’ll be judged in the election less than two years away.” House Representative John Faso, concerned by the potential of a defunding of Planned Parenthood in the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act stated, “[w]e are just walking into a gigantic political trap if we go down this path of sticking Planned Parenthood in the health insurance bill. If you want to do it somewhere else, I have no problem, but I think we are creating a political minefield for ourselves, House and Senate.” “We’re telling those people that we’re not going to pull the rug out from under them​, and if we do this too fast, we are in fact going to pull the rug out from under them,” said House Representative Tom Macarthur from Ney Jersey.

After reading numerous articles about Trump’s administration and the congressional republicans approach to the repealing and replacing of the ACA, it is clear that they do not have a plan on replacing the Affordable Care Act. It seems the only reason there has been so much opposition by the GOP to the ACA is that former President Barack Obama implemented it. This is not a valid reason to repeal a law that provides such an incredible benefit to so many.
In conclusion, although Trump’s Administration and republican legislators made promises to repeal and replace the ACA, it seems that neither knows how to do just that. Hopefully, President Trump and republican legislators come to a resolution soon because 20 million Americans are depending on it.

Ndubuisi Vincent Obah is a second-year law student at DePaul College of Law. Ndubuisi holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Dubuque in Criminal Justice and Sociology. Ndubuisi has an interest in healthcare compliance and criminal law. Ndubuisi will complete his law degree in the May 2018.