How Might an Obamacare Repeal Affect Medicare?

March 3, 2017


The full repeal of Obamacare was a campaign promise of Donald Trump and many other Republicans during the recent election cycle.

In the few weeks since President Trump took office, there has been much resistance to implementing that broad brush campaign promise, even from within the Republican Party, because no replacement legislation is in place to protect the millions of Americans who would lose healthcare insurance if Obamacare was repealed entirely.

Another reason that many people are opposed to a repeal of Obamacare, formally titled the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is that it would greatly impact the Medicare system, which primarily serves senior citizens and the disabled.

To understand the impact a repeal of Obamacare would have on Medicare, we need to take a look at how its implementation in March 2010 initially affected that system, which currently serves about 57 million Americans.

A recent Money magazine article (Think Changes to Obamacare Won’t Affect You? Think Again) states that ACA “contains about 165 provisions affecting Medicare, according to Medicare’s trustees.” These provisions cover areas such as current and future funding of the program, providing free annual wellness checkups and preventative screening procedures (i.e., mammograms and colonoscopies), as well as providing significant discounts for the cost of prescription medication purchased through Medicare Part D drug plans.

If Obamacare was suddenly repealed without any replacement legislation in place, it’s easy to imagine that the immediate impact could very well be insufficient funding (now and in the future), more illnesses due to less preventative care, along with the elderly not taking their medicine because they couldn’t afford to buy it.

Another recent article, Repealing Obamacare Affects Everyone published by CNN Money, states that eliminating ACA legislation without an alternative in place “would increase Medicare spending by $802 billion over 10 years, according to estimates by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.”

If you do the math ($802 billion divided by 57 million members divided by 10 years), that equates to an additional cost of $1,407 per Medicare member every year for the next decade. That’s a lot of extra money for anyone to spend annually in order to stay healthy, especially if you’re retired (or disabled) and surviving on a fixed income.

The few example provisions and simple math mentioned above obviously do not tell the entire complex story about what the impact of repealing Obamacare’s 165 Medicare-related provisions would be, but they do illustrate the overall affect could be severe and traumatic.

Thankfully, our new leader and the congressional majority appear to be somewhat cautiously working to keep their campaign promise rather than throwing caution to the wind, to pander to their supporters. It now looks like it will be many months, or even more than a year, before any sort of Obamacare repeal or replacement legislation is implemented.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope any changes made to the American healthcare system equally serve the needs–and good health–of us all.

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