Many Democrats and Republicans live in ongoing fear of the future of The Affordable Care Act.
1099 employees, for instance, who are contract workers instead of hourly or salary workers, can have a difficult time getting insurance through their employers. Others instead, like those with pre-existing conditions, live with the reality that many health providers won’t take on such risky cases, where the person’s medical bills are likely to be high.
The incoming president has made conflicting statements about his desire to repeal the ACA, saying on the campaign trail that he would like to “repeal and replace it,” and saying shortly after winning the presidency that he wouldn’t.
However, Republicans in Congress, like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have not been shy about their desire to reduce access to affordable healthcare for the 20 million people currently aided by the system.
They might do that through budget reconciliation. Here’s what that means to some people:
@nytimes what it means is that working people won' t have a gun to their head to buy insurance they do not want or need
— Al Sullivan (@asullivan00) January 4, 2017
— MR $TAKS (@MillerHills2) January 4, 2017
The way that budget reconciliation works is that a resolution guides Congress through what the budget is for certain programs, including healthcare, and this resolution is not presented to the president for a veto or signature.
According to the New York Times:
“Congress can change existing laws so that actual revenue and spending are brought into line with — reconciled with — policies in the budget resolution.”
This gives a newly Republican Senate and House of Representatives vast control over what the budget does and does not go toward, all without requiring any action on behalf of the President. Furthermore, the resolution may create one or two special committees in order to achieve a specific budgetary end, and that might mean changing provisions that affect taxes and spending or foregoing them altogether.
Republicans may hope to use this as a fast-track to removing the insides of the ACA, which President Obama has vigorously defended throughout his tenure. In January 2016, he vetoed a reconciliation bill meant to destroy it.
Reconciliation bills could provide a glass ceiling for provisions such as companies not being able to charge women at higher rates than men for health care, which are popular, but cannot be maintained without changes in the budget to help providers afford them.
While Democrats are often criticized for being weak or feckless, the ACA appears to be an area of strong support, with new Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer prepared to fight for it, saying that repealing the law would simply, “Make America Sick Again.”
The fight for the ACA may very well be the fight of this new presidency, as it is one of Obama’s signature accomplishments.
He recently joined Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill to speak about defending it. Watch below.
Featured image via Huffington Post.