The Republicans have been trying to repeal Obamacare ever since it was passed. They have passed over 50 bills in the House of Representatives to repeal it. Of course, they knew it was just an exercise in political theater since President Obama would have instantly vetoed it if it ever reached his desk.
But they have a Republican president now -- one who has promised his supporters that he would sign a bill repealing Obamacare. And they control both houses of Congress. So why hasn't Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) been repealed? They promised during the campaign that it would be one of the first things they did.
It turns out that repealing Obamacare isn't as easy as they had imagined it would be. First, with repeal looking imminent, a majority of the public (as poll after poll has shown) has realized that they actually like the program -- and they don't want it repealed. They just want it improved.
Second, the Republicans are getting a lot of public opposition to the repeal. This last week the Congress was in recess, but only about a quarter of the congressional Republicans scheduled a town hall meeting with their constituents. They knew that such a meeting would be filled with angry people demanding to know what was going to happen with their health insurance -- and they have no answers for those people.
Third, the public doesn't want to see 20 to 30 million people lose their health insurance due to a repeal of Obamacare. That's the view of about three-quarters of the voting public. They are not going to be happy with any plan that does not let those people keep their insurance.
The problem though for the Republicans, is that none of the so-called "plans" being floated by congressional Republicans to replace Obamacare would protect those people -- and none of those plans have been able to get majority support among congressional Republicans. That's because they know that an inadequate replacement plan (one that throws millions of Americans under the bus) would be a prescription for disaster in coming elections -- and could easily cost them control of Congress.
So what do Americans want in a replacement plan? According to a recent Economist / YouGov Poll (done between February 18th through 22nd of a random national sample of 1,500 adults, with a 3 point margin of error), the public wants the following:
Well, guess what? That is just Obamacare without an individual mandate to buy insurance. It turns out that the public likes everything about Obamacare except the individual mandate. That means the only change to Obamacare the public would accept would be to eliminate the individual mandate.
But that's a problem too. Without the individual mandate, insurance premiums would rise faster and higher than they already are rising -- and once the public saw that, they would be angry with Republicans for eliminating it.
It looks like the Republicans, with their promises and propaganda, have painted themselves into a corner. And they cannot repeal Obamacare without hurting their party (and their own electoral chances). Adding to their problems is the fact that repealing Obamacare would not only cost millions their insurance, but would cost the country more than a million jobs (see charts below from the Economic Policy Institute). As the charts show, all states would have people lose insurance and would lose jobs, but some states would be hurt more than others.