President Donald Trump has promised to repeal and replace the landmark healthcare legislation that former President Barack Obama claims as a signature legal achievement. But, his efforts seems to have stalled, at least for now.
As Republicans in Congress consider the new way forward — if they should do so at all, given that Mr Trump has stated that they should just let Obamacare fizzle out on its own accord — it’s worth taking a look at the differences between the two men and their attempts to radically reshape the American healthcare system.
Obama took 14 months to try and get a consensus on a bill before passing it
The timelines that Mr Obama and Mr Trump engaged were quite different. While Mr Trump pushed for a vote on repeal in the House of Representatives as early as March — about two months into his presidency — Mr Obama’s push lasted for 14 months.
The most recent effort by Republicans to pass a repeal bill in the Senate fizzled out just six months int Mr Trump’s presidency. Of course, there’s always more time for Mr Trump to cobble something together, but so far his efforts have been rushed and secretive.
Obama pushed for bipartisan debate, while Republicans under Trump have worked in secret
While Obamacare has become a strikingly partisan issue in 2017, Mr Obama’s Democratic-controlled Congress did not engage the process in a way that excluded the Republican Party. Instead, bipartisan committees in both the House and the Senate worked to come up with compromises to push forward with the legislation.
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It wasn’t until later that Senator Mitch McConnell — then the minority leader — realised that allowing the bill to seem publicly bipartisan could hurt the party at the polls, and began to push back against Obamacare saying the individual mandate was unconstitutional.
Mr Trump’s Republican-controlled Congress, on the other hand, has made all of its attempts to repeal Obamacare in private. The group has frequently met criticism for this approach,
Obama made it deeply personal, Trump has stuck to attacking people over Twitter
Both of the presidents have toured the country and given speeches promoting their positions, but they’ve contrasted a bit in terms of how personal they’ve been willing to get with it.
Mr Obama, amid an increasingly contentious debate around his bill, once remarked at a town hall in 2009, in Colorado that the issue was personal for him.
“I know what it's like to watch somebody you love, who's aging, deteriorate, and have to struggle with that,” he said in August of that year.
Mr Trump, on the other hand, has mostly stuck with attacks on Obamacare as the reasoning behind his position. He says he wants to give the American people a better healthcare bill, and often uses Twitter to push that position.
Mr Obama learned the ins and out, whereas Mr Trump didn't even seem to know basic details
Compared to Mr Trump, Mr Obama is well known for being a bit bookish and perhaps wonky when it comes to policy. By all accounts, he became well versed in the legislation he later signed, and encouraged congressional negotiations on the matter.
Mr Trump, on the other hand, has showed a shaky understanding of the legislation he is pushing. While he has been active in the negotiation process with Congress, he frequently tweets statements that seem at odds with the facts of healthcare debate. In addition to that, at least one story has emerged indicating he didn't even know the difference between Medicare and Medicaid.
Mr Obama's confidence in his knowledge was also on display throughout his push for healthcare. He took on numerous town halls, press conferences and interviews where he was asked about the ins and outs of his bill. Mr Trump, on the other hand, hasn't really allowed himself to be grilled on his policy at all.
In 2009, Obama comforted a woman with cancer who had concerns about the healthcare bill, and reassured her everything would be ok during a town hall meeting. Trump has so far not held any town halls.
Obama's plan gave millions affordable insurance, Trump's would have left millions uninsured
Whatever the motivation, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score of Mr Obamas landmark bill and those pushed by Republicans thus far in Congress suggested much different outcomes.
The CBO estimated that Mr Obama’s legislation would reduce the deficit, and reduce the uninsured rates by 31 million people.
The bills drafted by Republicans during the Trump administration, however, are expected to result in more than 20 million people losing their insurance. The CBO has also estimated that draft legislation could reduce the deficit as well.