I’m going to skip the usual bury-the-meat-until-the-3rd-paragraph. The journalists got this one wrong. The Affordable Care Act depends on the Individual Mandate. Without it, all sides agree, the bill will self-destruct.
Well folks, the Individual Mandate has been repealed. It will be gone in a little over 365 days from today.
Without the Individual Mandate, we have what’s called (in the insurance industry) a Death Spiral. The only people that will stay in Exchanges are the poor and the sick. Insurance companies, unable to provide affordable insurance to that pool, will exit the Exchanges. If no insurance providers participate in the Exchanges, the Affordable Care Act is meaningless drivel.
So let’s at least accept reality here. President Trump did “essentially repeal Obamacare” – now with only 51 votes in the Senate, he had better have a Plan B for passing its replacement.
Repealing the Individual Mandate has a double-edged sword to it for the President. He failed to get enough votes in the Senate to pass the Affordable Healthcare Act (AHCA), which by all accounts was “Obamacare Lite” – trading the Individual Mandate for a broader range of plans, fewer Essential Health Benefits, and more deficit spending to keep the Exchanges afloat. After all, the notion of an Exchange itself is not something conservatives oppose – provided it’s a loosely-regulated marketplace.
Obamacare Exchanges were the opposite of that, compulsory (USSR-grade) participation, combined with very tight regulation of what plans could be sold or offered competitively. But now President Trump does not have AHCA to fall back on. He has to pass something, and fast, or his “let Obamacare fail” strategy will complete itself. The first person that dies after losing coverage, due to not being able to afford cancer treatment, will become the media’s martyr.
If President Trump cannot replace ACA by 2019, I do not think he has a good chance at winning reelection in 2020.
And to the average person reading this, if you need healthcare, if you’ve been putting off getting work done on your body… please, go get it done. Right now. As soon as possible. Things could get really bad after 2018 in terms of obtaining insurance, even if you have it right now, especially if you bought it on the Exchanges.