Trump threatens to repeal Obamacare as Whitmer and Biden work to protect the program

In recent years, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed state legislation that protects features of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, the national health care law passed under former President Barack Obama. Similarly, President Joe Biden has expanded the law and overseen record enrollment in the program. But the leading Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump, recently promised to “terminate” the program, which would leave thousands in Michigan without health insurance.

Trump wrote in a Nov. 25 post on his social media site Truth Social that he would once again pursue the idea of attempting to “terminate” Obamacare if he were reelected.

“We had a couple of Republican Senators who campaigned for 6 years against [Obamacare], and then raised their hands not to terminate it,” Trump wrote. “It was a low point for the Republican Party, but we should never give up!”

In 2017, three Republicans and every Democrat in the Senate voted to oppose Trump’s plan to repeal the program. The vote was the most prominent rebuke of years of Republican opposition to the law, which Obama signed in 2010.

Trump’s continued support of repealing Obamacare follows actions by Democrats at both the state and federal levels to protect and grow the program. Several Michigan Republicans have historically supported repealing the law as well. 

In October, Whitmer signed House Bills 4619-4623 and Senate Bills 356-358 after they passed the Michigan legislature. The laws enshrine provisions of the federal health care law in Michigan state law.

Several provisions of the federal law will remain in place as state law, even if the federal statute is repealed. Health insurers will not be able to deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions or who are members of the LGBTQ+ community; insurers will be required to provide coverage for maternity care and mental health services. The law also allows children under the age of 25 to stay on their parent’s health insurance plans.

“Today, I am proud to sign bipartisan bills putting the cost-saving provisions of the ACA into Michigan state law and protect healthcare for millions of Michiganders,” Whitmer said in an Oct. 19 statement.

Since becoming president in 2021, Biden, who served as Obama’s vice president and has been a longtime supporter of health care reform, has worked to protect and expand the program.

The American Rescue Plan of 2021 and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 expanded subsidies for people buying health insurance on the Obamacare marketplace. Biden put in place a rule to fix a “family glitch” in the law which is projected to expand health insurance subsidies to 157,000 people in Michigan. The “glitch” refers to an IRS ruling that declared that many people were ineligible for a subsidy even if employer-offered health insurance was unaffordable, due to the way the law was worded despite the intent of lawmakers to expand eligibility for subsidies.

Under Biden, the federal government renewed pushing for Obamacare signups, something that had been deemphasized under Trump from 2017 to 2021, resulting in record enrollment for the program. The Department of Health and Human Services has estimated a nearly 50% increase in signups via the HealthCare.gov site since Biden took office.

Michigan residents have directly benefited from the law and could face significant hardship if it were repealed.Following the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Michigan has seen the number of residents without health insurance coverage drop by more than 50% between 2013 and 2016, according to the U.S. Census. A 2020 report from the Center for American Progress noted that 23 million people across the U.S. would lose coverage if the law were repealed, including 827,000 in Michigan.