Some Americans elated, others downcast at bill collapse,
Deep divisions over Obamacare, repeal likely to simmer.
Some Americans breathed a sigh of relief, others bubbled with frustration, and nearly all resigned themselves to the prospect that the latest chapter in the never-ending national debate over health care would not be the last.
The withdrawal of the Republican-sponsored health bill in the face of likely defeat Friday in the U.S. House seemed to ensure that the deep divisions over the Affordable Care Act and its possible replacement will continue to simmer.
As news spread, Americans fell into familiar camps, either happy to see a Democratic effort live another day, or eager to see Republicans regroup and follow through with their “repeal Obamacare” promises.
“Yessssss,” an elated 27-year-old artist, Alysa Diebolt of Eastpointe, Michigan, typed on Facebook in response to the news, saying she was relieved those she knows on Affordable Care Act plans won’t lose their coverage. “I’m excited, I think it’s a good thing,” she said.
Millions more shared her view, and #KillTheBill was a top trending topic on Twitter on Friday afternoon. Among those who have long sought to see Obama’s health law dismantled, though, there was disappointment or chin-up resolve that they still could prevail.
“Hopefully they’ll get it right next time,” said Anthony Canamucio, the 50-year-old owner of a barbershop in Middletown Township, Pennsylvania. He gave his vote to Trump in November and wanted to see Obama’s health law repealed, but found himself rooting for the GOP replacement bill to fail. He is insured through his wife’s employer, and laments the growing deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, blaming Obama’s law even as health economists say those trends in employer-provided health coverage preceded the legislation.
For Canamucio, the Republicans’ bill didn’t go far enough in dismantling the ACA. But he remains steadfast behind Trump and said he believes the president will still deliver.
Cliff Rouse, a 34-year-old banker from Kinston, North Carolina, likewise was willing to give the president he helped elect a chance to make good on his promise. He sees Obama’s law as government overreach, even as he knows it could help people like his 64-year-old father, who was recently diagnosed with dementia but refused to buy coverage under a law he disagreed with. Rouse sees Trump’s moves on health care as hasty, but believes the GOP will eventually come around with better legislation.
It remained far more than a petty political debate, though, and some like Janella Williams, framed the issue as a question of life and death.
The 45-year-old graphic designer from Lawrence, Kansas, spent Friday in the hospital hooked up to an intravenous drip for a neurological disorder, getting the drugs that she says allow her to walk. Under her Affordable Care Act plan, she pays $480 a month for coverage and has an out-of-pocket maximum of $3,500 a year. If she were to lose it, she wouldn’t be able to afford the $13,000-a-year outof-pocket maximum under her husband’s insurance. Her treatments cost about $90,000 every seven weeks.
As she followed the efforts to undo Obama’s law, Williams found herself yelling at the TV a lot. She wrote her senators, telling how she felt “helpless and out of control,” and how her hope was dwindling.
After watching coverage on Friday while tethered to a port in an outpatient area, she said when the bill was withdrawn, “I am thankful. I hope that this makes Trump the earliest lame duck ever.”