PRESIDENT Trump’s efforts to smash ex-President Obama’s healthcare system, which provides cheaper health insurance for the low paid and the poor (Obamacare), have collapsed after his own party, the Republicans, refused to go along with his plans.
rump had made repealing and replacing Obamacare, under which more than 20 million people gained healthcare coverage, his key campaign pledge. Now, two Republican senators have said they oppose their own party’s proposed alternative, making it impossible for the bill to pass the Senate in its current form. The Republican right considers that the Trump plan is too timid and won’t allow the private US medical industry to make the kind of super-profits that it believes are its right.
More moderate Republicans are concerned that they will lose the support of poorer and more vulnerable Republican voters, and have opposed Trump’s proposed changes ‘from the left’. Trump is now calling for the repeal of Obamacare, but that it should be allowed to continue for another two years – by which time the Republican party will have either worked out a replacement all are prepared to support, or Trump heads to be a one term president and defeat in 2020.
The task of winning support for starting ‘from a clean slate’ falls to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The party’s proposed alternative had kept key Obamacare taxes on the wealthy, while imposing sharp cuts to healthcare for the poor and allowing insurers to offer less coverage.
Two Republican senators, Mike Lee and Jerry Moran, then took the lead to say that the new legislation did not go far enough. Moran said: ‘We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy’, while Lee said: ‘In addition to not repealing all of the Obamacare taxes the bill doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations’.
Two more senators – Rand Paul and Susan Collins – had already opposed the bill. Paul said it kept too much of the ‘Obamacare taxes’, while Collins expressed concerns about cuts to Medicaid. With the two new opponents, Republicans – who hold 52 seats – no longer had enough votes to pass the bill in the 100-member Senate.
Moderate Republicans still say the bill would have harmed some of their vulnerable constituents.
In fact, the non-partisan Congressional Budgetary Office (CBO) found the bill would have stripped 22 million Americans of health insurance over the next decade. On top of that, polls had shown Obamacare remains popular among Americans – a survey by the Washington Post and ABC News on Monday found more than twice as many people prefer Obama’s programme to the proposed alternative.
In the end, the death blow came from the right flank of the Republican party. Trump is now urging Republicans to repeal the ‘failing Obamacare now and work on a new healthcare plan that will start from a clean slate.’
McConnell said he would try to pass a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay implementation that would provide a ‘stable transition period’ to a new legislation. This plan if anything will make US workers even angrier than they are now since, under the interim period, millions will be left without any healthcare at all.
The American trade unions must now intervene in this attempt to knife all US healthcare for the poor. They must call a conference for all US trade unions to take industrial action to defend Obamacare and also establish a US Labour Party, based on the trade unions, that will contest the presidency in 2020.
The 2016 election was a huge disappointment for US workers after their candidate, Bernie Sanders, backed down and allowed the discredited Hillary Clinton a clear run for the presidency, after millions of workers had given him their support. Sanders should have refused to stand down as he had the kind of support that is needed to beat Trump.
The US trade unions must learn from this defeat, and stand their own Labour Party candidate in 2020 to to fight for workers jobs and socialist policies including a completely free healthcare system based on public taxation!