Congress Continues to Struggle With New Healthcare Bill

Julie Shenkman
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When President Donald Trump took office with a Republican-controlled Congress, one campaign promise he made was to undo the Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as Obamacare. As of July 2017, Republicans are finding it hard to pass a health care bill aimed at revising the American health care system. There are several reasons why this process is so difficult.

U.S. News & World Report states the health care bill in 2017 is nothing new. Harry S. Truman first tried to get health care for all Americans back in 1948, and then social reforms of the 1960s brought forth Medicaid and Medicare. In 1992, Bill Clinton tried to make universal health care as a legislative priority, and it completely failed. Despite health care being on the minds of ordinary Americans on a daily basis, somehow, it's hard to get things done when it comes to passing new laws.

History of Struggles

Several forces complicate the health care bill, and history is one of them. Truman's efforts were seen as socialist and un-American, just as the Soviet Union rose to power after World War II. Even in 2017, many Americans balk at the European idea of socialized medicine and the government having so much control over someone's freedom of choice. Richard Nixon tried to improve health care coverage for poor Americans alongside senator Edward Kennedy in 1974. This was happening as America was leaving Vietnam. In 1992, Republicans balked at Clinton's plan as too bureaucratic with too much red tape.

Obamacare happened, but Democrats paid a steep price for it. In the following mid-term elections in November 2010, the GOP rode a wave of sentiments that included push back against higher taxes, and Republicans took control of the House of Representatives. Likewise, the 2017 health care bill faces hurdles from voters and industry experts.

Industry Lobbying

The health care industry is big business, and it's one of America's largest employers. Hospitals, drug companies, health insurance providers, medical technology manufacturers, nurses, doctors, patients and even state governments all have a stake in the fight to create a health care system that works. As of 2017, most of these entities like Obamacare because it expanded the health care industry. More people on Medicaid and more people with health insurance means more business for health care companies.

Plus, there are different issues facing urban and rural health care providers with regards to access to care. There's also the opioid addiction epidemic that makes headlines on a weekly basis. Cutting Medicaid leaves nursing home patients, people with an opioid addiction and rural citizens in a lurch without health care options.


At the time of World War I, the life expectancy of Americans was just 56 years old. In 2017, more and more millions of Americans live into their 90s. That means health care, as an overall expense, becomes a greater portion of the American economy. The old ideas of health care need to shift into a longer-term view. To solve the longevity equation, people have to spend money for a robust health care bill. Americans may not want higher taxes to pay for it.

Congress must find a middle ground with any health care bill. Taking away benefits from Americans hurts the industry as a whole, not just the patients without options for care.

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