Voters must pressure Congress, Trump to reinforce ACA

Political tensions within Congress have come to a head recently as a result of the fight over the Affordable Care Act. On Oct. 6, Trump announced the end of the Obamacare birth control mandate, which required employers to provide FDA-approved contraception at no cost.

Companies will now be permitted exemptions due to religious reasons or “sincerely held moral convictions,” according to a recent Politico. These exemptions will allow companies to hide behind moral ambiguity to cut corners on their employees’ health.

The Affordable Care Act is a comprehensive legislative reform of health care. It was approved by President Barack Obama in March of 2010, and the Republicans in Congress have been fighting it ever since. With a Republican president and a Republican majority in Congress, most thought the repeal of Obamacare was imminent. Ten months later, the law remains in effect.

President Trump has been outspoken in his disdain for the ACA, but he has yet to announce any sort of adequate replacement. Instead, he seeks to undermine its effectiveness by weakening its power. In doing so, he is alienating the millions of Americans who rely on this legislation for healthcare services.

The administration’s recent action caused uproar among the bill’s supporters, specifically those who benefit from the policies being targeted. Having anticipated this move, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the administration no fewer than two hours after the birth control announcement.

Undeterred, Trump recently stated that the government would stop paying subsidies to insurance companies. These payments, which began during the Obama Administration, helped low-income families fund the cost of their healthcare.  

This decision will cause an increase in premiums nationwide, a fact the president denies, stating in a tweet, “Any increase in ObamaCare premiums is the fault of the Democrats for giving us a ‘product’ that never had a chance of working.” This tweet serves only to highlight the president’s ignorance of healthcare policy, as he clearly does not understand the methods through which the insurance market operates.

Due to the ambiguity surrounding the fate of the subsidies, many insurers have already increased their rates for 2018. According to CNN, some have hiked theirs by more than 20 percent. Certain major carriers have simply chosen to drop out of the individual market. With fewer options, low-income individuals will struggle to obtain the healthcare they need, especially with the decrease in employer healthcare regulations.

Aiming to prevent further deterioration in the market, two senators have proposed a tentative agreement to shore up the bill for the next two years. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have announced that they have a temporary solution to appropriate the subsidies.

According to National Public Radio, “Alexander said the idea is to stabilize the markets in the short term while Congress continues to debate long-term changes to the Affordable Care Act.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to guarantee to bring the bill up for a vote, even though President Trump had publicly announced his support as of Oct. 17.  

It is during times like these, when the outlook seems bleakest, that it is most important for voters to stand up for what they believe. Republicans in Congress need to hear that the public supports healthcare for all. As students during the golden age of technology, getting involved in politics has never been easier. Voice your support for the ACA by calling or emailing your local senator to encourage them to reaffirm everyone’s right to affordable healthcare.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Jordan is a freshman at Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached at [email protected]

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