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Obamacare wins again; Thanks, Mr. Trump

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

After Republicans spectacularly failed to gather enough votes to repeal and replace Obamacare, President Donald Trump should consider changing his slogan from "Make America Great Again" to "Hey, We Tried."

And somewhere, I am so sure, former President Barack Obama is smiling.

His signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, survived with all of its imperfections -- and it's apparently growing in popularity -- intact after a Republican push to repeal and replace it fell apart Monday night.

After a few weeks of closed-door meetings and a lot of backstage bargaining for votes, support for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's ACA repeal-and-replace bill, nicknamed Trumpcare by its critics, collapsed like a leaky blimp.

Relying solely on Republican votes, support for the bill melted away after two conservative Republican senators, Mike Lee of Utah and Kansas' Jerry Moran, said they would not vote for it. That put the final nails in Trumpcare's coffin.

Good riddance. Among other problems in my view, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the GOP's Senate bill would leave 22 million people without insurance coverage, a toll surpassed in its cruelty only by the House Republican bill, which the CBO says would deny health care to 24 million Americans.

Those unattractive options help to explain why national approval ratings for Obamacare rose above 50 percent after Trump's election and have continued to rise as the public learns what the possible alternatives could be.

What went wrong for repeal? Three problems stand out.

One, after years of promising repeal and repeatedly voting for it -- only to be repeatedly vetoed by President Obama -- congressional Republicans neglected to come up with an alternative plan to introduce, not that it would have had a chance of passing.

Two, the GOP's failure to create an alternative plan exposed deep fissures. The polarization within the party and the reduction of moderates to an endangered species has left the GOP too divided within their own ranks to reach a consensus on the best remedy for Obamacare's ills.

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(c) 2017 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
 

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