Health care has once again taken center stage in American politics, as the House of Representatives punts an Obamacare replacement to the Senate.
The subject of health care has been reverberating across late night television and onto the pages of local newspapers ever since. It is no wonder why: this is a bad bill that could see coverage stripped for 24 million people with prohibitive costs raining down to punish anybody born with a health problem or women who get pregnant. There is not much to debate on this subject. Either you see health care as a run-of-the-mill product or service, like buying groceries, or you see its guarantee as inalienable to the equality of opportunity that America should strive to attain for its citizens. If your train of thought leans toward the latter, history may offer a glimmer of hope. Tinkering with health care has become a death knell for ruling Congressional parties, with the last two Democratic majorities to do so being promptly swept away in 2008 and 1994. But if this bill is passed, does it matter if the GOP gets swept along with it in 2018? After all, Trump will still be President and even though the Democrats were punished for passing Obamacare, it is still the law of the land almost a decade later.
The answer depends upon the activism of voters. When President Bush’s second term wound down, outrage over his disastrous administration led to consecutive Democratic wave elections in 2006 and 2008, and these waves are what made Obamacare possible in the first place. If that outrage over Republican policy repeats itself in 2018 and ousts Trump in 2020, all is not lost. If there is one lesson the Democrats should learn from this noxious Republican rollback of Obamacare, it is that their previous legislation did not go far enough. Should they ever gain the privilege of governing again, they need to craft and crash through legislation that is neither fragile nor compromising, as was Obamacare. In 2016, Bernie Sanders showed us the blueprint for the future of health care in America. Donald Trump even won the Republican nomination endorsing it. But in 2020 it will need to be the wider Democratic Party that ends this perpetually cyclical debate by providing Medicare for all.