In 2009, Congress passed the landmark Affordable Care Act with a Democrat majority. Since then, it has revolutionized America’s health care system for millions of Americans.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) extended Medicaid coverage to more Americans, providing insurance to those with low incomes. Furthermore, it required insurers to cover preventive services without charging cost sharing.
The Democrat-controlled House
In late March, the Democratic-led House of Representatives passed the Affordable Care Act, providing health insurance to millions more Americans. It took nearly 16 months to pass this law due to disagreements among lawmakers.
On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, becoming the first of two chambers to do so (Democrat-controlled House first; Senate approved it in December 2009).
After much debate, the House of Representatives passed the Affordable Care Act with overwhelming support. However, many Democrats expressed dismay at its price tag which they saw as an unnecessary waste of funds that would burden America for years to come.
Republicans in the Senate were fiercely opposed to this legislation, contending it was too costly and required government spending of billions of dollars annually. According to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office, healthcare reform will cost $1.2 trillion over 10 years while decreasing federal revenue by $180 billion.
The Democrat-controlled Senate
In 2010, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed Obamacare. When Republicans took control of the House in 2011, they immediately set about repealing it. Their efforts became a major theme throughout both 2010 and 2018 midterm elections, though ultimately unsuccessful in accomplishing their objective.
Democrats hold the majority in the 118th Congress, so it is critical that they maintain their caucus and work across the aisle to gain support from some Republican senators. Doing so will be essential in confirming President Biden’s Cabinet and judicial nominees.
The Democratic-led Senate holds a slim 51-49 majority, but they have yet to come together on how to govern their chamber.
Chuck Schumer has taken over as the new majority leader, but he must collaborate with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the rules they must abide by to govern their chamber. Additionally, they must determine how power will be shared between both parties in committees.
The Democrat-controlled White House
In 2010, the Democratic-led White House passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare.”
The legislation sought to expand health insurance coverage to all Americans, reduce costs and improve access to care. It also required insurers to offer 10 essential benefits and gave states the option to expand Medicaid coverage.
Obamacare did help reduce the number of uninsured individuals, but not without drawbacks. For instance, its slow website for signing up for insurance had been criticized as one cause.
However, Obama’s administration has since addressed these issues and many consumers report being able to purchase insurance through the ACA with ease.
Though Republicans in Congress have repeatedly promised to repeal the law, some GOP legislators remain determined. They plan on using their new authority in Congress to starve the law of money, subject federal agencies to delay tactics and create additional obstacles for individuals participating in state exchanges.
The Democrat-controlled Congress
In March 2010, the Democratic-controlled Congress passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This expanded Medicaid eligibility, established health insurance exchanges to make purchasing coverage easier, and prohibited insurers from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
The law provided subsidies to lower-income individuals to help cover their premiums. Furthermore, cost sharing reductions were provided, which helped reduce deductibles.
Though the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a widely supported piece of legislation, it came with some drawbacks and required an unprecedented amount of political will to pass.
One of the drawbacks was that Democratic-controlled Congress had to use budget reconciliation in order to pass their bill, which only requires 51 Senate votes.
It’s difficult to envision a time when either party will have enough votes in the Senate for a veto-proof majority. This bodes ill for other pressing matters like immigration and climate change that need attention.