Mike Pence Shows the GOP’s New Obamacare Strategy: Pretend It’s Already Gone
Having failed to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Trump administration appears to have settled on a different plan: pretend it’s already gone.
During last night’s vice presidential debate, Republican incumbent Mike Pence responded to the charge that the administration was “trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, which means that you will lose protections if you have preexisting conditions,” by saying that he hoped he would have the chance to talk about health care, “because Obamacare was a disaster, and the American people remember it well.”
The choice of words is telling. Obamacare was a disaster. Americans remember it well. Without explicitly saying that the health law has been repealed, Pence was speaking as if Obamacare was already gone.
That is far from true. Although Obamacare has been altered in various ways over the years by the Supreme Court, Congress, and the executive branch, the law’s major components remain. The Medicaid expansion, which accounts for approximately half the cost of the law, has grown as more states have adopted it. The subsidies and regulations governing individual market health insurance remain alive. Many of the taxes and fees imposed by the law are still on the books. The “disaster” Pence spoke of in the past tense is a present reality.
The implication that it has been consigned to history was probably not an accident. For years, President Donald Trump has spoken of Obamacare as something that exists mainly in the past rather than a law that remains on the books. As early as 2017—following the pass
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