Opinion: Trump highlights a missed opportunity for the GOP

Former President Donald Trump, who did not succeed in trying to repeal Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, in his first term in the White House, said this past week that if he wins the presidency in 2024, he will try again to eliminate the law. “I don’t want to terminate Obamacare,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social website. “I want to REPLACE IT with MUCH BETTER HEALTHCARE.” (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Former President Donald Trump, who did not succeed in trying to repeal Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, in his first term in the White House, said this past week that if he wins the presidency in 2024, he will try again to eliminate the law. “I don’t want to terminate Obamacare,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social website. “I want to REPLACE IT with MUCH BETTER HEALTHCARE.” (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Former President Donald Trump unexpectedly brought back a familiar GOP campaign issue this week, vowing to use a second term in the White House to repeal Barack Obama’s health law.

In doing so, Trump inadvertently sent out a policy reminder that Republicans have never been able to rally around a single legislative plan to help Americans deal with the cost of health insurance coverage.

“I don’t want to terminate Obamacare,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social website. “I want to REPLACE IT with MUCH BETTER HEALTHCARE.”

As usual, Trump didn’t roll out any details associated with his call for action. You may remember that when he was in the Oval Office, Trump repeatedly suggested a new health plan was almost always ”two weeks away” — an answer that turned into a running political joke akin to his plans for ”Infrastructure Week.”

On Capitol Hill, the GOP fervor to repeal what’s officially known as the Affordable Care Act has long faded away — with no action in this Congress on any broad plans to overhaul or get rid of the current system.

“The only thing Obamacare delivered was increased costs, fewer choices and broken promises,” said U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C.

So what’s the GOP alternative? That’s the odd part. After nearly 14 years of talking about repealing the Obama health law, Trump and Republicans in Congress still don’t have a specific GOP ”plan.”

Apart from buzz phrases such as ”patient-centered” health plans, preserving the doctor-patient relationship and ”market-based” programs, there isn’t a health package that’s anywhere close to getting a GOP majority in the Congress.

And even when they try to nibble around the edges of the current system, Republicans haven’t really tried too hard.

For example, the U.S. House passed a bill in June that would let small businesses give money to their workers and allow them to use it to buy insurance coverage.

But Republicans never sent that bill across the Capitol to the Senate. If you watched “Schoolhouse Rock,” you know laws aren’t made when only the House approves a bill.

National Democrats were more than happy to have Trump and Republicans talk again about repealing the Obama health law.

“My predecessor has once again — God love him — called for cuts that could rip away health insurance for tens of millions of Americans,” President Joe Biden said at the White House.

We all know the current health care system in America is far from perfect. One would think that Republicans could put forward a serious alternative — but it hasn’t happened.

Maybe in the next two weeks.

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and Congress from Washington since the Reagan administration. His column appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com.

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