What does “repeal Obamacare” really mean?

Republicans have shouted about repealing Obamacare for the past six years. The war chants grew even louder since the November election. Now that the Republican Congressional leadership actually has the ability to defund and repeal the health care law they despise, almost all of the discussion in the news this month is about the features of the law that they don’t want to repeal. Even coverage of Trump’s pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services questions his ability to achieve basic health care policy goals.

Until this week, I presumed that the easiest and most obvious place to start the repeal were the hugely unpopular penalty taxes built into Obamacare. These penalties were largely responsible for collapsing my formerly successful Freedom Benefits business so naturally I had  personal reasons to wish the taxes gone. Last month I even started some articles for publication in various industry magazines anticipating the effect of ACA provisions. All the while, however, I recognized that the taxes were necessary to keep the Affordable Care Act working. Repeal the taxes and the entire law would fall apart. That is what I expected under Trump and a Republican presidency.

Now the latest news is that Republican leaders may not wish to repeal the unpopular Obamacare taxes. It seems that some are finally realizing that the bulk of these Obamacare taxes are paid by the top one tenth of one percent of income earners.  Repealing Obamacare taxes would mean an average tax savings of almost $33,000 per year for the top 1% of taxpayers.

Meanwhile the largest portion of benefits are received by those on the lower half of the income scale. There is even some talk among Republican about cutting back the health care benefits while leaving the Obamacare taxes in place!

At this point the Republicans continue to claim that repealing Obamacare is their first priority but it doesn’t appear that there is anything close to consensus on repeal of any single specific part of the law. The latest news coverage indicates that the Trump and Republican talk of fast repeal of Obamacare may be nothing more than another empty campaign lie. A widely quoted poll by Kaiser Foundation released on Friday indicates that the public does not support immediate repeal of Obamacare and that support for repeal might be changing quickly as people learn more about the Republicans’ plans.

One WSJ news commenter wrote “Sorry folks,the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. The House  and Senate Republicans do not have an alternative plan if they repeal ACA. Certainly, changes  are needed to keep the ACA functional. It is disappointing that the Republican House and Senate said NO for eight years without coming up with a REPLACEMENT”. That seems to represent a growing public opinion.

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