Trump’s attack on the Affordable Care Act shows he’s out of touch. And it’s backfiring spectacularly.

Trump & US healthcare workers
Peadar O'Cearnaigh

Despite being in the grip of a global health pandemic, US president Donald Trump is attacking US healthcare. He’s reaffirmed his intention to challenge the Affordable Care Act (ACA – ‘Obamacare’):

President Obama enacted this healthcare reform in March 2010. Many US Republicans have been opposed to it since it became law. So Trump’s opposition is in keeping with that line. But University of Minnesota political science professor, Lawrence Jacobs, argues it’s also a tactic:

Trump is playing to the conservative base and the idea that these are kind of big socialist programs that need to be taken down.

But as we’re all grappling to deal with the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Trump’s playing a very dangerous game. Judging by the reaction online, people aren’t taking it. Like Trump, they’re also calling for change to healthcare. But they’re calling for the kind of change Bernie Sanders would bring.

People hit back

There was a swift reaction to Trump’s attack on the ACA on its tenth anniversary. Many people do want to replace the ACA, but they want a real improvement. Something like Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All. So they fear what could come from Trump’s lawsuit:

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, who was Obama’s vice-president at the time of the ACA, condemned Trump’s lawsuit:

As did speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi:

‘Obamacare’

ACA had three primary goals:

  • To “make affordable health insurance available to more people”.
  • “Expand the Medicaid programme to cover all adults with income below 138% of the federal poverty level”.
  • To “support innovative medical care delivery methods designed to lower the costs of health care generally”.

It offered health insurance cover to US citizens who previously had none. It also protected those with pre-existing health conditions. ACA has, however, been criticised for making insurance companies richer, partly because they can set deductibles. Deductibles (like an ‘excess’) are the amounts people must pay before the policy takes effect. And deductibles can be higher than those of people who get health insurance through work. Hence the need for Sanders-style change.

What people need

So if there’s to be any change to the ACA it needs to be in the Sanders direction. Because his Medicare for All would go well beyond the limited ambitions of the likes of Biden and Pelosi and provide US citizens:

with comprehensive health care coverage, free at the point of service.

It also promises to ensure:

no one in America pays over $200 a year for the medicine they need

There appears to be widespread support for the plan Sanders has championed. This is particularly so in the teeth of the coronavirus pandemic:

It’s at times like these that we see what our leaders are made of. But it’s also when we see what ordinary people are made of. If any good can come from this crisis, it would be leaders listening to and answering the people’s demand for a proper healthcare system. Trump’s getting this one classically wrong.

Featured image via YouTube – ABC NewsYouTube – Good Morning America

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