Republican lawmakers returned home last week during the first congressional recess of the new year. Many of them come from areas that voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump.
Upon their return, they were not treated with a warm welcome. Instead, across the nation, they were met with jeers and chants of “tell the truth” and “do your job.”
Angry constituents yelled a myriad of questions on topics ranging from education, the environment and the president’s links to Russia. The most poignant questions were about the Affordable Care Act or its more colloquial term “Obamacare.”
One of Trump’s campaign promises was the immediate repeal of Obamacare, something Republicans have been wanting to do for the past eight years. Unfortunately for them, it is a lot easier said than done.
Even the former Speaker of the House John Boehner casted doubt on the repeal’s prospects. "I shouldn't have called it repeal and replace because that's not what's going to happen. They're basically going to fix the flaws and put a more conservative box around it," he said in a press release.
The main problem is the lack of clarity of what exactly the replacement plan looks like—not even the Republican Party knows. According to Boehner, “In the 25 years that I served in the United States Congress, Republicans never, ever one time agreed on what a healthcare proposal should look like. Not once.”
Obamacare allows kids to stay on their parents’ healthcare plan until they reach the age of 26. It also does not let people with pre-existing conditions get turned away from coverage.
In many town hall meetings, people tell real stories about how Obamacare has helped them and their family. In Arkansas, one woman told her senator that three people in her family would be dead without the ACA. A farmer in Iowa told his representative that they were creating “one great big death panel” if they repealed Obamacare and, instead, implored that Congress should improve the act.
For years since its implementation, misinformation about Obamacare has spread like wildfire. Republican lawmakers bring up factually inaccurate points, like “death panels,” to discredit the law. The unorganized Democratic Party has utterly failed to defend the law and shoot down these myths.
A poll by Morning Consult found that 35 percent of U.S. citizens thought the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare were either two completely different policies or did not know whether they were the same or different. Further findings showed that 45 percent of U.S. citizens did not know that Obamacare might get repealed.
This confusion can shape the public debate over the health care law. The public’s response is democracy at work. Voters are voicing their concerns to their representatives.
They are not being paid to show up and the notion that they are is insulting. These are people with real problems who are rightly demanding answers. Repealing this law without a replacement plan will result in people dying or losing their quality of life.