Trump probably won't manage to destroy Obamacare this time round – but what that means for the future is grim

If Trumpcare gets through, then 24 million Americans are poised to lose their health insurance by 2026. That’s more people than Obamacare has helped since it was signed into law in 2010

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The Independent Online

America’s healthcare system has been broken for a long time now – and it’s not hard to see why. Despite laying claim to some of the world’s most brilliant medical minds and magical miracle treatments, the remarkable divide between those who can and cannot afford even the most basic medical procedures has transformed the gift of good health into some sort of sick and twisted caste system.

Last night, that divide got a little bit bigger.

It’s taken seven gruelling years, but bloodthirsty conservatives were finally able to take a huge step forward in their increasingly fanatical quest to eradicate Barack Obama’s well-meaning Affordable Care Act on Thursday after securing a rushed, paper-thin majority approving the bill they think should replace it: the American Health Care Act.

In case you’ve not been paying attention, this is the second time Republicans have tried to push through this particular bill – which is essentially just a bastardised and cold-hearted version of its liberal predecessor. The American Healthcare Act explicitly benefits healthy, high-income people by cutting back taxes for the rich and phasing out Medicaid expansions that would have helped poor people get access to affordable healthcare.

Donald Trump savours 'repeal of Obamacare' after winning House vote

It’s also designed to remove Obamacare’s much-reviled individual mandate that punishes people who don’t purchase insurance, allows states to withhold coverage to all unemployed, able-bodied adults and axes rules that prevent insurance giants from turning away old people and those with pre-existing conditions.

A few bits of Obamacare, such as the provision that allows kids to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26, are staying put. And in order to win over wary, moderate Republicans this time around, Trump and his crony Paul Ryan decided to commit some $8bn worth of extra funding to help states create local hardship funds for the absolute sickest of the sick. Even then, 20 Republican lawmakers still refused to back the bill on Thursday.

Why? Because like it or not, they know a decent chunk of GOP voters directly benefit from Obamacare. And if this flaming pile of crap were to actually get enshrined into law, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reckons it would see at least 24 million Americans lose their insurance coverage by 2026. That’s even more people than Obamacare has claimed to have helped since it was signed into law in 2010.

Translation: if you think the American healthcare system sucks right now, just you wait until Republicans are allowed to smear their grubby little fingers all over it. Things are going to go from bad to worse pretty damn quickly.

Fortunately, the chances of the American Healthcare Act actually making it onto the Resolute Desk for Donald Trump’s gaudy signature are virtually null. As it currently stands, the half-baked bill simply is not strong enough to survive its next challenge on the Senate floor – and to be honest, The Donald probably already knows that.

You see, the upper house is chock-full of procedural buzzsaws that are ergonomically designed to preserve the status quo and prevent any sort of change. And on top of that, there are a handful of GOP moderates wasting space on Capitol Hill who are already panicking over their re-election chances in 2018. You don’t have to be a political genius to suss out that supporting a callous bill designed to send millions of voters to their untimely deaths isn’t fantastic PR.

Still, none of that means Obamacare is out of the woods. This permutation of Trump’s self-serving healthcare plan might die a slow and painful death in the weeks to come – but the blind hatred and misguided fear that have been driving this bill will inevitably continue to resurface again and again throughout the months and years to come until something or someone eventually gives.

You’d better strap yourselves in, because it looks like this fight is only just getting started.