The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, has been a point of contention between Democrats and Republicans. It has been a rocky road for the healthcare law with significant efforts directed at repealing it. In this four-part post, we are going to trace the timeline of events from 2009 to February 2014, and show the power struggle between both sides along the lines of the Affordable Care Act. In the first part of this series, let’s take a look at the period from March 2009 to December 2010.
White House holds its first healthcare summit. Democrats begin to coalesce around their own plan. The Republican alternative is considered “non-specific.”
GOP proposes an alternative plan, but it is seen as a minor edit of the McCain plan. The alternative is shunned on the grounds of its inability to provide ‘more control’ to Americans during the health insurance purchase stage.
The Patient’s Choice Act is introduced, which embraces certain Democratic concepts, but is basically a copy of Massachusetts reform. Although the proposal does not have an individual mandate or tax liabilities for employers, it does encourage state health insurance exchanges. The bill went to a committee, but died in the review process.
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Dave Camp (R-MI) present their pass at an alternative. Critics liken this alternative as a public relation exercise that makes tall claims but does not show how 47 million uninsured Americans will be covered, what would be the associated costs and how will they be paid. In case that one didn’t take, nine other alternative plans are rolled out.
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) introduces the “Empower Patients First Act”. It is judged nearly identical to four previous GOP proposals and shot down.
The Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passes “The Affordable Health Choices Act.” This bipartisan bill includes over 160 Republican amendments that were accepted during the longest mark-ups – a full month – in Congressional history.
September to October 2009
The GOP is still stuck in the initial stages, with nothing coming out of the incessant efforts to provide an alternative for the PPACA.
In September, the Senate Finance Committee rejects two amendments to include a government-run public health insurance option. In October, this same committee approves Baucus’ landmark health reform bill, “America’s Healthy Future Act.”
GOP finally comes out with an alternative to the Democrats’ bill, “Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute Offered by Mr. Boehner of Ohio.” The alternative is discarded by the CBO as the Democrats’ bill covers 12 times as many people and saves $36 billion more than what Republican alternative does. Further, the Democratic bill is moving through several committees and gaining acceptance while making some compromises.
Obama holds a televised health care summit with leaders from both parties to explain the health care bill.
As Patient Protection and Affordable Care act progresses through the house, GOP lawmakers are bent on getting the law scrapped but don’t have a substantial counter-proposal.
June saw more efforts to repeal the PPACA – two bills were referred to committee but nothing came of either.
The 11th Circuit of Appeals in Atlanta rules that the individual mandate section, which requires nearly all Anericans to purchase health insurance by 2014 or face financial penalties – was an improper exercise of federal authority.
Democrats ask Republicans to take the mantle and tackle their issues of health care and reform. Instead of crying for repeal, Democrats urge Republicans to propose and alternative and tell America how they will benefit from their proposal.
Republicans respond in kind with their “Pledge to America”, and make promises to repeal Obamacare and replace it with their alternative. Closer scrutiny reveals that their alternative is nothing more than a bunch of things preexisting in Obamacare.
October to December 2010
Most of Republican proposals are seen as efforts similar to what they pushed in their years of power from 2000 to 2006. In that period, insurance premiums were peaking, benefits were lower, and the number of uninsured was drastically increasing. The mood of the nation is swaying away from the Republican alternative game, especially with older proposals being re-proposed.