Days after Donald Trump was elected as president of the United States, significantly large groups of people began to anxiously question their health care status. They were not only worried about the course Donald Trump was taking in regards to the entire nation, but also about how they were going to manage under his presidency, considering their mental illnesses.
Trump’s campaign was largely based on a promise to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Obamacare was signed into law on March 23, 2010 and provides an estimated 22 million Americans with medical coverage. The medical coverage includes mental health and substance abuse treatment specifically, which all private insurers and Medicaid have to insure.
Approximately 43.8 million adults in the U.S. experience mental and psychiatric illness in a given year and nearly 17.6 million of those people suffer from alcoholism. So it’s not hard to see the anxious nature of our nation after Donald Trump was sworn into office.
Prior to the ACA, people with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems were limited on coverage and sometimes received no coverage at all. But when the ACA came into effect, the law mandated that mental disorders be treated equal to non-psychiatric medical illnesses, such as cancer and other diseases.
Even with Trump in office, there seemed to be a momentary glimmer of hope when he suggested that he was open about keeping some parts of Obamacare after repealing it, like coverage for pre-existing conditions.
The biggest defeat of Trump’s presidency so far was the failure to repeal Obamacare and replace it with Trump’s version of the ACA, which was widely criticized by both parties and created a broad division in the Republican party. Trump blamed Democrats for the bill’s failure, though they proudly accepted responsibility.
The Republican bill would have repealed billions of dollars in taxes imposed by the ACA and would have cut off federal funds to Planned Parenthood. The bill would have also removed a mandate that requires Medicaid to cover basic mental health services.
“Let’s just, for a moment, breathe a sigh of relief for the American people that the Affordable Care Act was not repealed,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said.
Now, there is no doubt that Obamacare has its flaws. However, if President Trump goes about his promise of repealing and replacing Obamacare, he will strip millions of Americans with mental and non-psychiatric illnesses in no time.
Individuals with mental illnesses who lose their coverage would be forced to seek treatment in emergency rooms or even be left untreated. Untreated mental disorders like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression would surely lead to an increase in suicide rates.
The failure of the President Trump’s version of the ACA leaves Obamacare where it has been since it was signed, with all of the aspects that Republicans disagree on. Rather than repeal and replace Obamacare, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents could work together to make the Act better.
Kenny Nguyen, a Skyline student, believes that the core solution right now is if “everyone set aside their party loyalty and ego just to come together to figure out a solution. It’s when we set aside out greediness for wealth is when we all move forward as a nation together.”
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said after pulling the bill, “it’s [Obamacare] going to remain the law of the land until it’s replaced.”
There are several reasons to worry about health in Trump’s America, but America can’t be great if millions of citizens are left uninsured.