Trumpcare - A Detailed Look Into The GOP’s Healthcare Reform

Edward Neeman | Published: March 26, 2018

President Trump clapping

In 2010, President Obama and his administration passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a complete overhaul and replacement of the healthcare system at the time. In an effort to belittle the new healthcare law, it was members of the GOP who decided to refer to the Affordable Care Act as Obamacare. However, the name caught on and the White House embraced the term, forever cementing Obamacare as the unofficial name of the current healthcare system in the US.

The theme has carried over to the Trump administration. President Trump had a controversial and headline worthy presidential platform which included everything from building a $2 billion dollar border wall to a complete repeal and replace of Obamacare. When President Trump’s healthcare plan was released, it was inevitable coined Trumpcare.

Defining Trumpcare

As mentioned before, Trumpcare is just the term used when referring to President Trump and his administration’s health care plan. Essentially, Trumpcare doesn’t refer to a specific healthcare regulations, plans, or policies, it’s just the term that would have been, or will be used for any new healthcare system enacted under President Trump.

Does Trumpcare Really Exist?

No, Trumpcare doesn’t exist, or at least not in the way most people would think.

President Trump and the GOP brought a few different healthcare bills to vote, including the American Health Care Act, Skinny Repeal, and Better Reconciliation Act of 2017. Each one of these healthcare bills has been referred to as Trumpcare, but each bill has failed to gain enough votes to become law. Therefore, as of today, Trumpcare doesn’t exist. However, new bills are still being put together, so it’s not farfetched to see a Trumpcare bill become law in the near future.

What Changes Did Pass

While a complete repeal and replace of Obamacare was never successfully implemented, many believe Trumpcare began to take shape with subtle, and seemingly small changes to the Affordable Care Act, and it started with his executive order known simply as Obamacare Relief.

In short, Obamacare Relief was a bill aimed at creating more competition in the health insurance marketplace, along with reducing the federal deficit by lowering tax dollars spent on healthcare. The executive order hoped to achieve both goals by loosening the standards on qualified health plans, bringing back association health plans, and eliminating federal subsidies for health insurers who provide healthcare for lower income individuals and families.

Obamacare Relief was met with a great deal of controversy. Along party lines, Democrats were against the executive order because they felt it would destabilize the health insurance marketplace, while Republicans were in favor of the new piece of legislation because it took the government out of a private industry. This executive order marked the first policies of Trumpcare.

President Trump’s Healthcare Platform

As mentioned above, President Trump made healthcare one of the defining points of his platform, but what was he actually looking to make changes to the Affordable Care Act? Did he have a plan in place? Was he just trying to score easy points with Republican voters? Here’s a look at President Trump’s plan of attack for healthcare reform in the US.

Trump’s 7 Point Healthcare Plan

During the early months of his Presidential campaign, there wasn’t so much a plan in place for healthcare reform, rather, there were promises centered around repealing and replacing Obamacare. One can assume this was a campaign strategy that would appeal to Republican voters who were vehemently against the ACA and marketplace.

On June 16, 2015, Donald Trump officially announced his candidacy for President from his Trump Towers. It wasn’t until March 1, 2016, that a plan for healthcare reform in the US was released. The 7 point plan for healthcare reform contained the following policy changes:

  • 1. Complete Repeal of Obamacare: President Trump’s 7 point healthcare plan starts with making good on his campaign promise, which was to completely repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. This would include the federal mandate that requires everyone enroll in a healthcare policy, or face a tax penalty. Trump stated that no person should be forced to buy health insurance.
  • 2. Health Insurance Plans Offered Across State Lines: Currently, health insurance companies need to be licensed in each state they offer health insurance policies in. Under Trumpcare, two things would happen. First, it would allow for greater competition in each state, helping drive prices down. Secondly, it would allow association health plans to re-enter the market.
  • 3. Deduct Premiums from Taxes: Since businesses and corporations are already allowed to deduct health insurance premiums from taxes, why shouldn’t individuals and families? This would help lower overall tax expenses, and help make health insurance more affordable. The second part to this point is to review Medicaid options to make health coverage available to anyone who wants it.
  • 4. Tax-Free Health Savings Accounts (HSAs): Health Savings Accounts are already tax-free, but what President Trump hopes to do is make an HSA part of a person’s estate. This new plan would allow for Health Savings Accounts to be passed down without paying taxes upon transfer, and even allow additional family members to tap into the funds.
  • 5. Price Transparency: If you have ever been to the doctor or hospital, you may already know that price transparency doesn’t exists. Most often, prices are negotiated with health insurance companies and medical providers on the backend, and you receive a bill after receiving your medical service. Having price transparency would give Americans the ability to compare and choose the most affordable option for their medical needs.
  • 6. Medicaid Reform: The plan would take federal regulations and funding out of the mix, and allow states to control their own Medicaid programs. The idea behind this is to reduce federal intervention and waste, because states would be able to manage their Medicaid programs better without federal oversight.
  • 7. Free Market for Drugs: A free market for drugs would mean more competition and lower pricing, according to President Trump. Allowing Americans to import and access drugs from overseas, and making it easier for safe and cheaper alternatives to enter the market would force big pharmaceutical companies to lower their prices.

The plan was reviewed and critiqued by critics and advocates alike, but ultimately it wouldn’t matter. While some points became law, the majority of Trump’s 7 point healthcare plan never came to fruition.

Who Would Benefit From Trumpcare

President Trump has mentioned numerous times that his plan for healthcare reform would help everyone, specifically the middle class. It’s difficult to determine who the real winners and losers of Trumpcare are because there have been numerous bills proposed, with few passing. However, experts and government agencies have weighed in on different points of the plan, and here’s what they had to say.

Pros Of Trumpcare

Keep in mind that the pros of Trumpcare would heavily depend on how you view healthcare. This pros list was taken from different sources across the board, with varying views on healthcare to try and keep this as impartial as possible.

  • Eliminate Tax-Penalties: Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a bill that was actually passed, the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate will no longer be in place beginning in 2019. This is a win for those who don’t need or want health insurance. Younger, healthier Americans will no longer face substantial tax-penalties if they opt out of coverage for the year.
  • More Competition, More Options: When the President signed his executive order into action, he brought competition and options back to the marketplace. Americans would no have access to healthcare plans across state lines, association plans, and even short term plans, which were essentially illegal under Obamacare. This would create more, and even cheaper health insurance options for Americans under Trumpcare.
  • Reduce Federal Deficit: This section pro will quickly turn into a con in the next section, but for now, the biggest winner from Trumpcare would have to be the federal deficit. Under President Trump’s healthcare plan, cutting subsidies for health insurance companies, and making cuts to Medicaid would save the US an estimated $337 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Cons Of Trumpcare

Just to reiterate the point, the listed cons of Trumpcare have been pulled from the numerous healthcare bills that have been proposed. Some of these

  • Destabilized Marketplace: When the Affordable Care Act passed, each piece of legislation, and each detail was specifically designed to create a healthcare system that would eventually reduce healthcare costs in the US. So, when President Trump passed new bills, and signed new laws into effect, it had a ripple effect which is destabilizing the health insurance marketplace.
  • More Americans Without Coverage: The Congressional Budget Office took a look at some of the Trumpcare bills that were brought to the table, specifically the American Health Care Act, and came to the conclusion that nearly 23 million Americans would be without coverage in 2026.
  • Loosely Regulated Health Plans: Under Obamacare, health insurance plans had to meet federal standards in order to be considered a qualified health plan. These standards are known as the minimum essential benefits, and helped ensure Americans had adequate health coverage.

What Trumpcare Means For The Future Of Healthcare

As it sits right now, the small changes President Trump has made to the current healthcare system will have potentially impactful results. Depending on which side of the political fence you sit on, these changes will either work in your favor or your opposition.

What To Expect

Trumpcare has already raised some concerns among the health insurance companies, and federal healthcare programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. It’s important to understand that over the last few years since Obamacare went into effect, the US healthcare system has been working to adapt to the new laws and regulations.

Each time President Trump and the GOP bring forth a healthcare bill, it creates a sense of uncertainty, and the healthcare system quickly scrambles to adapt, yet again. It’s unsure of what Trumpcare will bring to the future, but what you can expect is more uninsured Americans, more health insurance options, including cheaper and loosely regulated plans, marketplace plans becoming more expensive, a lower federal deficit, and more state run healthcare programs.