Obama Brainstorms With Democrats on Strategy to Save Affordable Care Act

Dems huddle as Republicans seek to pull the plug

In a bid to salvage a large part of his political legacy, President Obama is meeting with congressional Democrats to discuss ways to block GOP-led efforts to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

Republicans have made dozens of attempts to repeal the PPACA since it was passed six years ago, charging that the act is ineffective, expensive, and coercive. Promises to repeal the act made up a central part of Donald Trump’s campaign platform. On January 3, Senate Republicans introduced a measure that lays out an aggressive timeline to accomplish at least a partial repeal.

“People must remember that ObamaCare just doesn’t work, and it is not affordable,” Trump wrote on Twitter this week.

According to a White House statement, Obama will rally Democrats on Capitol Hill behind some of the broadly popular parts of the act, which include a ban on excluding people from coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions and a provision allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26. Republicans have indicated that they want to keep those measures in place, but they will likely need to find alternative ways to pay for them, the Journal noted.

For Democrats, passage of the PPACA was the culmination of years of efforts by the party to expand health care access through government intervention in the market. But for Obama personally, it is also a crucial piece of his political legacy. After the act survived a serious challenge at the Supreme Court, he declared that it was “here to stay”—branding it a critical effort after a “century of talk, decades of trying, [and] a year of bipartisan debate.”

With imminent Republican control of the Senate and the House, as well as the Oval Office, that legacy is now looking less certain, the Journal observes. According to Republican lawmakers, the PPACA has raised the cost of insurance and limited the options available to consumers. In addition, they say, the mandate that most people buy insurance is too intrusive. The lawmakers cite recent premium increases and decisions by some insurers to stop selling policies under the act as evidence that it isn’t working.

“Obamacare overpromised and underdelivered,” Senator Chuck Grassley (R–Iowa) said in a statement. “With every year, it’s been sinking deeper, and the ship is on the brink of capsizing.”

Source: Wall Street JournaI; January 4, 2017.