After four years of failure and broken promises to repeal Obamacare, Trump and the Republican Party have guaranteed its survival, and they have made the Democratic Socialists dream of Medicare for all a done deal.
In addition to promises to fix the illegal immigration problem and defund Planned Parenthood, the promise to fix healthcare and repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) was the main reason voters supported the Republican Party over the past 10 years — support that culminated in 2016 with America giving Trump, McConnell, and Ryan full control of Washington.
After making and breaking the promise to repeal Obamacare in 2012 and 2014 — McConnell always claimed it couldn’t be done with Obama in the White House — Trump and the Republican Party assured America in 2016 that if voters gave them the keys to the kingdom, they’d finally get the job done.
Of course, they lied because Obamacare repeal never happened. In fact, Republicans became the odds-on favorite in the race for Medicare for all.
Leading up to the 2018 midterm election, Trump and the Republican Party promised to really, really, really repeal Obamacare if voters would ignore their lies to do so in the past and let them keep their majority. This lame attempt to avoid the Blue Tsunami many had predicted failed BIGLY when voters handed the GOP a humiliating defeat by giving Democrats their biggest midterm election victory since Watergate.
The 2018 midterm should have been a wakeup call, but Republicans decided that recycling the lies of 2016 would be a better 2020 strategy. Trump doubled down on promises to repeal Obamacare in 2019 by announcing that his Republican Party would be known as “the party of healthcare,” and promising to propose a “phenomenal” new healthcare plan by fall of that year.
He never presented a plan because, most likely, it never existed. Still, Trump continued gaslighting voters with promises to fix the healthcare system and repeal Obamacare, a lie he was still spreading as the 2020 election approached.
Surrounded by all the pomp and circumstance you’d expect from the reality TV president, Trump announced the America First Healthcare Plan in September 2020, declaring that “Obamacare is no longer Obamacare.” Unfortunately, the AFHP wasn’t actually a plan at all, but merely a list of “requests for legislation.”
The first executive order made protecting patients with pre-existing conditions the “policy” of the U.S. even though such protections already existed under Obamacare. The other order directed Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar to explore ways to address surprise medical bills if Congress failed to do so by January 1, 2021.
“The speech and executive order stood as a tacit admission that Trump had failed to keep his 2016 promise to replace his predecessor’s signature achievement with a conservative alternative,” Washington Post reporter Toluse Olorunnipa wrote. “Unable to repeal the law, Trump appeared open to simply rebranding it.” (emphasis mine)
Trump and the Republicans eventually passed the buck to the Supreme Court last year when a group of GOP-controlled states asked the Court to declare the law unconstitutional after the tax penalty for non-purchase had been removed in the 2017 tax cuts. In June 2020, Trump filed a legal brief arguing that Obamacare it be entirely struck on these grounds despite the fact that the high court had upheld it twice already. The case was heard in November and a decision has yet to be made.
Failing to repeal Obamacare not only ensured its survival, it made Medicare for all a done deal.
Eight days into his administration, Joe Biden used coronavirus hysteria to move in the direction of Medicare for all when he issued an executive order directing the US Department of Health and Human Services to open a special Obamacare enrollment period allowing Americans to sign up for government-subsidized health insurance.
“These actions demonstrate a strong commitment by the Biden-Harris Administration to protect and build on the Affordable Care Act, meet the health care needs created by the pandemic, reduce health care costs, protect access to reproductive health care, and make our health care system easier to navigate and more equitable,” the White House said in a statement announcing the order.
The Supreme Court case has given the Biden administration more ammunition. In a two-page letter, the Department of Justice (DOJ) told the court that Obamacare remains constitutional even though the tax penalty meant to enforce the purchase of insurance by most Americans was zeroed out under the previous administration.
“Following the change in Administration, the Department of Justice has reconsidered the government’s position in these cases,” Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler wrote, adding that “the United States no longer adheres to the previous administration’s conclusions.”
The DOJ suggested that the justices could simply remove the insurance mandate if they found it unconstitutional, while sparing the rest of the law. This concept, known as “severability,” appeared to gain traction during oral arguments heard in November, even with the so-called conservative members of the court.
The pro-Obamacare crowd have argued that Obamacare has nothing to do with Medicare for all or government-run healthcare, but it’s always been intended to be a gateway to the destruction of free-market healthcare. And despite Biden’s claims to the contrary, a recent opinion piece by Hadley Heath Manning for the Washington Examiner shows us how his recent actions are moving us in that direction.
President Biden has said he doesn’t support “Medicare for all,” citing the program’s high price tag of $32 trillion. But by reopening Affordable Care Act enrollment on Feb. 15, boosting ACA subsidies (potentially in the next coronavirus package), and calling for a so-called “public option,” Biden essentially supports moving the United States to single-payer healthcare on an incremental installment plan.
Democrats hope to continue to add to the rolls of public [health] programs, although they vary in the degree to which they are transparent about this as a strategy to get to single-payer. Some are very transparent, such as Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren. They’ve suggested two steps: They would start by offering a public plan alongside private insurance, the so-called “public option,” with the goal of moving all the way to single-payer next.
Democrats don’t need to make a big push to get “Medicare for all,” which might alarm Americans who don’t want socialized medicine. Rather, all Democrats need to do is continue to load the rolls of Medicare and Medicaid and subsidized ACA plans.
The Democrats’ strategies to get to single-payer, whether by allowing people to buy into government programs or expanding eligibility, all continue our march in this wrong direction. Americans need to recognize this. If they want to keep any private options, they need to oppose any and all expansion of government health programs, even though … these expansions can so easily be disguised “as a humanitarian project.”
In his famous radio address about socialized medicine in 1961, Ronald Reagan pointed out that members of Congress and unions supporting Medicare were using a “foot in the door” strategy to create “a mechanism for socialized medicine capable of indefinite expansion in every direction until it includes the entire population.”
The Gipper was right, but I’ll bet he never imagined that Trump and the Republican Party would be the ones making Medicare for all a done deal.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.