News Analysis: Trump continues to push for healthcare revamp, but it could be too little, too late

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-01 12:33:03|Editor: Xiang Bo
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by Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, July 31 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump is still pushing for a healthcare revamp, even though his bill -- considered a last-ditch effort to pass legislation -- failed in the Senate last Friday.

Despite years of promise that they would repeal and replace the 2010 healthcare law, known as Obamacare, Senate Republicans failed last week to pass a draft bill. That sparked the White House's wrath, but President Trump did not not give it up.

Trump "will not accept those who said, quote, 'it's time to move on,'" Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump's senior advisers, told conservative TV program Fox News on Sunday.

"If a new Health Care Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon," the president tweeted Monday in a bid to tighten the screws on the Republican Congress.

However, Trump's threats to the Congress may be futile, as the party simply does not have the votes to repeal Obamacare, despite the controversy the bill has elicited over the past years.

"It is too little, too late. Republicans don't have the votes for any significant repeal of Obamacare," Darrell West, the vice president and director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, told Xinhua.

"The Senate tried several different alternatives and none of them passed. The Senate Majority Leader has said it is time to move on to other issues so he isn't very optimistic that anything new can be achieved," West said.

"The only real option would be a bipartisan effort, but it would require Republicans to give up on a repeal of Obamacare and move to shoring up its financing. A number of Democrats are willing to do this, but it is not clear that many Republicans will join the effort," West said.

Critics say Obamacare is often unaffordable for many Americans, punishes them with fines for not opting into this expensive plan and props up insurance companies with taxpayer dollars.

Supporters say the plan has given millions of Americans access to health insurance, who did not have it.

A principal reason for Republicans' disagreement on the healthcare reform is an internal split between moderates and conservatives, experts said.

On last week's bill, moderate Republicans said the legislation did not solve all the problems, while conservatives said they wanted every line gutted and claimed that this government overreach gave too much power to bureaucrats in Washington.

One major problem that conservatives have with Obamacare is that people far above the poverty line can get access to government-subsidized programs that previously were only for the poor. That will be no longer a heavy burden for taxpayers, critics said.

Now, there is a chance that the Trump administration and the Republicans could lose much credibility in the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections.

Although with control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, the GOP (nickname of the Republican Party) could lose that advantage if it does not fulfill its promises to enact meaningful legislation that supporters expect.

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua that last week's failure was not as much of a loss for the White House as it was for GOP lawmakers.

Repealing and replacing Obamacare "is a promise that they made seven years and four election cycles ago...This promise was made long before Donald Trump came along to be their nominee," he said.

O'Connell said that the Republican party would have had this problem regardless of which Republican sits in the White House.

"Voters are not going to blame Trump. They are going to blame the members of Congress who couldn't uphold their promises," he said.