One thing Trump voters say they love about him is his propensity to “tell it like it is.” But just days after becoming the next president-elect of the United States, Donald Trump is already backpedaling on his campaign promise to immediately repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) once he’s in office. Here’s why Trump’s pivot may be a good thing for millions of Americans who need health care.
It’s true that for many the ACA wasn’t exactly as affordable as we were told it would be. Many people who signed up for insurance through state markets were hit with unconscionably high premiums, preventing them from receiving the medical treatment they need. These issues point to a strong case for health care reform, though, not the need to get rid of public health care altogether.
If Trump does decide to repeal the ACA without a new healthcare program to replace it, millions will be left without insurance and no means of getting it. People will probably still go to the emergency room if they have to, leaving the financial burden for taxpayers when individuals can’t afford life-saving treatment. All Americans will be worse off without an affordable public healthcare option. It would force millions to forego preventative medical care that could prevent a visit to the emergency room or end a life too soon to a treatable illness.
It is essential that certain aspects of the ACA are maintained. The removal of lifetime limits on coverage, equalizing insurance payments for men and women, and disallowing insurance companies to discriminate against customers based on pre-existing conditions are all key components of effective public health care plans. The ACA wasn’t perfect, but as a first step towards the best possible public health system our country can create it got a few things right.
Some revisions to the ACA would be welcome. The Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA), passed earlier this year with partial funding, places an emphasis on providing resources to combat the opioid addiction crisis, a provision that would be welcome and needed in a new public health insurance program. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA), a 2008 bill that guaranteed health insurance providers can’t treat addiction treatment services unfavorably compared to other kinds of medical treatment, must also be enshrined in any federal health care initiatives going forward.
As both parties pull back and forth on exactly what kind of health insurance program would best replace or reinforce the ACA, we must not forget that the health of millions of Americans is at stake.
No matter how you voted in this year’s election, ensuring everyone has access to quality healthcare should be a bipartisan issue. Where Democrats want to promote healthcare as a universal human right, Republicans can understand that it costs much less to society and the individual to prevent major health care problems before they escalate. Trump is changing his tune when it comes to repealing the ACA, and every American stands to benefit from one of the first public policy pivots of his presidency.