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What's the Difference between 'Obamacare' and the 'Affordable Care Act'? NOTHING

February 16, 2017

By Louise "Wendy" Pongracz

QUESTION:  What’s the Difference between “Obamacare” and the Affordable Care Act?


  1.  “Obamacare” and the “Affordable Care Act” are the SAME thing. A recent article in the New York Times reported survey results showing that one-third of the people surveyed did not know that “Obamacare” and the “Affordable Care Act” refer to the same law. So? Even more people – more than 60 percent! – did not know what would happen if the ACA is repealed. 

The consequences of repeal could be HUGE! Just to name two: If the ACA is repealed, those individuals who purchased coverage from the Marketplace with premiums that are subsidized through premium assistance tax credits will simply not be able to afford any coverage. For a family of four making an average income, the premium for coverage is more than $1,000 per month. Under the ACA, this family would get a premium assistance tax credit of more than $700 per month to purchase this coverage. Without the premium assistance, that coverage is out of their reach. And, those who received coverage only because of the extension of Medicaid to those making up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level would again be left with NO coverage.

We must educate ourselves about the existing ACA provisions and the proposed changes. Watch this space for a more detailed discussion of the proposals to dismantle the ACA, that is, Obamacare.

  1. President Trump’s executive order did NOT repeal the ACA! But, what can the executive order do?

The executive order did NOT and cannot repeal the ACA. The ACA is a federal law, passed by the House and the Senate. The appropriate federal agencies, the Departments of Labor, Treasury and Revenue, issued implementing regulations. A president cannot repeal existing law or final regulations through an executive order.

That doesn’t mean that the executive order doesn’t have some very serious effects. For example, those regulations that are not yet finalized can be put on hold or pulled back entirely. And, since much of the ACA implementation was shaped by agency “guidance,” not by formal regulation, the guidance can be restrained or reshaped pursuant to an executive order without formal legislative or agency action.

Finally, the executive order allows the head of the Department of Health and Human Services or any other agency not to enforce ACA regulations that impose a financial burden on a state, company or individual. Given the breadth of the order, many of the law's provisions, including many of the taxes it imposes on insurers and the individual mandate could wither and die from lack of enforcement.

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