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Survey: Americans want to build on Obamacare

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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Here is something you probably haven’t heard much lately, if at all, given the shocking news from Charlottesville and the disturbing reaction by President Trump.

Roughly 80 percent of Americans believe that Trump and his administration should do all they can to make the Affordable Care Act work while only 17 percent believe they should try to make the law fail so they can replace it.

The numbers come from a recent survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation that also found that even more than half of the supporters of President Trump want him to do what he can to make the law work.

That hasn’t stopped Republican members of Congress from continuing to push for repeal of the ACA or to continue to misrepresent the bill they supported earlier this summer to allegedly replace it.

The Hickory Daily Record reported recently that North Carolina Congressman Patrick McHenry told a town hall meeting that he had done his part to repeal the health care law by voting for the legislation that narrowly passed the U.S. House.

The legislation that McHenry supported would leave 14 million more people without insurance coverage next year and 26 million more people uninsured in the next ten years, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The House plan would also slash Medicaid spending by almost $900 billion in the next ten years, with $6 billion worth of cuts to North Carolina’s Medicaid program that currently insures almost 2 million people, including 42 percent of children in the state and 21 percent of seniors and people with disabilities.

The Senate rejected the House plan and defeated several versions of its own replacement plan that would also dramatically increase the number of people without insurance across the country and in North Carolina.

The failure of the repeal efforts mean that for now the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land and so does its most popular provisions, like banning insurance companies from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions, allowing children to stay on their parents plan until they are 26 and providing physicals and other preventive care for free.

But President Trump is now considering ending cost sharing reduction payments to insurance companies designed to keep deductibles and copayments reasonable for low and moderate-income families who buy insurance on the health care marketplace.

Trump has called these payments an insurance company bailout, but as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities explains, they are an essential part of the Affordable Care Act that help make sure that low income families can afford to buy insurance, which is the point of the health care law in the first place.

There are also reports that the Trump Administration will curtail efforts to encourage people to sign up for health care coverage when the enrollment period begins this fall. As the Kaiser Family Foundation reports the Administration has already diverted funds available to publicize and market the health care law and instead used to money for propaganda criticizing the ACA.

The ACA was based on a common sense assumption that whatever Administration was in power, it would do its job and follow the law and do all it can to help Americans access the health care it provides.

If President Trump does that, the law will work the way it was designed to. There are adjustments that need to be made to improve the ACA, especially with the marketplace, and there is some encouraging news that Republicans might be willing work with Democrats to make them, now that the radical repeal efforts have failed.

Wouldn’t that be a refreshing change in Washington, if the two parties would work together to improve a health care law that is generally working well and popular with the American people?

It is long overdue.

Chris Fitzsimon is founder and executive director of N.C. Policy Watch.

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