The election of Donald Trump as president, along with the Republican Party’s retention of both houses of Congress, sets the stage for the long-promised repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as Obamacare. Obamacare boosters warn that repeal would throw 20 million Americans who have gained health insurance coverage through the law back into the ranks of the uninsured overnight. The truth is more complex. Nearly half of the coverage gains made during Obama’s presidency had nothing to do with ACA provisions and will survive repeal. Many other newly insured people will keep their coverage—if changes are made to health-care financing, and if two popular ACA provisions President-elect Trump has spoken favorably of are retained.
Repealing most of the ACA, retaining a few provisions, and replacing programs in 2018 will rid the country of one the most contentious, complex, and wasteful pieces of social engineering ever enacted—and set the stage for a more efficient, consumer-centered health-care system.
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