Republicans are like the barking dog who chases cars. One day the car stops and the dog doesn't know what to do. For over six years, Republicans in Congress have been saying how awful the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is. Over 60 times, Republicans in the House have voted to repeal it, knowing that President Barack Obama would save them with a presidential veto.

In the over 60 times they voted to repeal Obamacare, not once were they ready with an alternative plan. Think about how reckless this was and the impact their actions could have had for millions of Americans counting on Obamacare for their health care.


Republicans have had six years to come up with a plan that is better than Obamacare. Six years! Yet, they come up empty handed every time. So either Obamacare is not so bad after all, Republicans are incompetent, or there is a third alternative: They just don't care.

The problem now is that Obama is no longer around to veto their reckless votes. President Donald Trump will happily sign a repeal bill and they — Republicans — will be blamed for millions of Americans losing their health care and for the significant increase in insurance costs for millions more.

When Obama came into office, over 50 million Americans did not have health care insurance. Obamacare cut that number to 30 million. The proportion of Americans with health care insurance currently stands at 91 percent, an all-time high for the United States. This is embarrassingly low compared to the rest of the developed world, but for the United States it represents progress.

More mature Republicans in Washington are telling their colleagues to slow down. Sen. John McCain of Arizona recently stated that he is "worried about something that took a long time in the making and we've got to concentrate our efforts to making sure that we do it right so that nobody's left out." Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky stated that "If Congress fails to vote on a replacement at the same time as repeal, the repealers risk assuming the blame for the continued unraveling of Obamacare."

Republicans are partly responsible for some of the problems with Obamacare. For six years they have done everything in their power to weaken it. Many Republican governors have refused to enroll their states in parts of the plan, leaving millions of seniors and poor people without insurance. Health insurance is all about numbers; the more people who participate, the cheaper the cost for everyone because costs are spread over a larger number of people. Republicans have done everything possible to make Obamacare a failure in order to support their claim that Obamacare is a failure.

So what to do? Repeal and delay, it seems. Republicans may vote to repeal Obamacare, again, but delay the implementation of their repeal until they come up with a better plan which, it seems by their track record, could be never. But voting to repeal a health care plan, even with a delay, encourages insurance companies not to participate. After all, why invest in a plan today that Congress has voted to kill in a couple of years? As stated by Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the repeal and delay approach would result in chaos within the health insurance industry.

There are many good things included in Obamacare, supported by a majority of Americans, that Republicans could build upon in the development of a better plan. Children remaining on their parent's plan until the age of 26 years, protecting people with pre-existing conditions, free preventative care to decrease long-term costs, are just a few examples.

The majority of Americans want Congress to make Obamacare better. Interestingly, the Urban Institute estimates that 56 percent of the people who would lose coverage with a repeal are white and 80 percent of them have less than a college degree. These are the folks who voted for Trump. Unfortunately, Republicans don't want to make Obamacare better. Instead, they want to kill it because it is associated with a man they love to hate. Their bottom line is erasing the legacy of President Obama, not improving health care costs for average Americans.

Repeal and replace, repeal and delay — call it what you want. In the end, Republicans will be held responsible for their actions. They caught the car and the future of health care in America is now firmly in their hands. With power and responsibility comes both praise for success and blame for failure.

It will be interesting to see what Trumpcare will do.

Tom Zirpoli writes from Westminster. His column appears Wednesdays. He is program coordinator of the human services management graduate program at McDaniel College. Email him at