Opinion: What's the Future for the Affordable Care Act?

In 2010, under the Obama administration, a revolutionary act was passed—the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, dubbed by opponents as "Obamacare." However, the establishment of a mandatory health care almost immediately became the subject of controversy. 

Because health care was now a requirement by law, citizens who chose not to take advantage of the Affordable Care Act had to pay fines. And even though residents of the United States received several financial benefits, doctors experienced a significant decline in annual income. Overall, the institution of the Affordable Care Act created more divides in the American society while working towards its goal of health care for everyone.

In 2014, only 35 percent of Americans approve of a mandatory health insurance according to a Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking poll. Kaiser reported that only 19 percent of Americans said that Obamacare has helped their families, while 22 percent argue that the Affordable Care Act has hurt their families, and 57 percent state that the act had no direct effect on them. These statistics show that a relatively large portion of the country’s population did not agree with the ACA.

But as recently as April 2017, the ACA has gained a majority approval for the first time since it was created. According to a Gallup Poll conducted between April 1 and 2, 2017, 55 percent of Americans now approve of the ACA, after the Republican-led Congress, with the backing of President Donald Trump, tried to repeal the law in March. According to the same poll, ACA has seen an increase of support from voters registered as Republican (up 10 percent), Democrat (up 10 percent), and Independents (up 17 percent) since November 2016. Below are some highlights from the Gallup Poll: 

  • 55% approve, up from 42% right after 2016 election
  • 40% want to keep law but make significant changes
  • 30% want to repeal; 26% want to keep law as it is

The establishment of the ACA has proved to be detrimental to those in the medical field. Some reports show that the average annual salary for a physician practicing in the United States has experienced a decline of about 10 percent in the last 20 years. For the most part, this is attributed to the Affordable Care Act. Although there may be a huge influx of new patients due to free or affordable health care, this ultimately meant that doctors might have to work twice as long to receive the same wage as before.

But at the same time, Affordable Care Act has proven beneficial to members of the public. With free and affordable health care, patients with long term chronic illness can rest easy knowing that they won’t have a staggering bill to pay following their recovery. For example, drugs for cancer treatment can cost thousands of dollars. But with the Affordable Health Care, patients have been able to reduce the costs to as low as $3—the cost of a single gallon of gas in some places. 

With all of this in mind, the question stands: where do we go from here? During his campaign, President Trump spoke critically of Obamacare, going as far as to claim that he would completely repeal it. The first attempt faced tremendous backlash from voters — and even from Republican members of Congress that the attempt was pulled. Rumors are now swirling for a second attempt coming within the next few weeks heading into Summer. How the vote will go depends on whether or not Republican leaders have learned from their last attempt. But one thing is clear: Regardless of whatever the Trump administration decides to do—Obamacare cannot cease to exist without a replacement that satisfies everyone.

*This story has been updated with to include the most recent Gallup Poll since it was originally printed for the April Issue of Bear Essential News. 

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