WI congressional Republicans have long backed Trump’s call to ‘terminate’ Obamacare

Rally in Support of the Affordable Care Act, at The White House, Washington, DC.

Six years after former President Donald Trump broke his promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, he is now promising to get rid of the health care law if he wins in 2024. Many Republicans in Congress have unsuccessfully tried to do so since its enactment in 2010.

In a Nov. 25 post on his Truth Social social media site, Trump said he was “seriously looking at alternatives” to the Affordable Care Act, which lowered health care costs, protected millions of Americans with preexisting medical conditions from discrimination by insurance companies, and allowed more than 220,000 Wisconsinites to obtain affordable health care plans through a marketplace. 

“We had a couple of Republican Senators who campaigned for 6 years against it, 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!” 

Since President Barack Obama signed the health care reform legislation into law on March 23, 2010, Republicans in Congress have voted more than 50 times to repeal or roll it back. Trump ran in 2016 on a vague but firm vow to immediately repeal the law and replace it with a “terrific” plan to guarantee health insurance coverage for every single American. 

Rather than release this secret plan, Trump endorsed a 2017 GOP repeal effort that would have taken away coverage from millions of people; Trump himself described the plan as mean and lacking heart. A version passed in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, but it failed narrowly in the GOP-led Senate. 

Republican Wisconsin Reps. Mike Gallagher and Glenn Grothman were both in Congress at the time and each voted for the 2017 Obamacare repeal proposal, as did Republican Sen. Ron Johnson

Eric Hovde, a likely 2024 Republican challenger to Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, ran for Senate in 2012 on a promise to fully repeal the law and get the government out of health care entirely. “I believe we need to move to a free-market approach and allow people to be their own consumers of their health care needs,” he said in one ad. “We need to repeal and replace Obamacare in its entirety and move in a 180-degree different direction, where people take on their own personal responsibility and use a free-market approach to solving our health care crisis.”

Some congressional Republicans have already been pushing for Obamacare repeal in recent months, despite the law’s strong popularity. A May 2023 KFF Health Tracking Poll from May 2023 found 59% of American adults have a favorable view of the law, compared to 40% unfavorable. 

According to a Nov. 27 Politico report, some Senate Republicans who voted for the 2017 repeal bill sought to downplay the issue after Trump’s latest comments, but did not say they had changed their minds. “Boy, I haven’t thought about that one in a while,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) said. “I just don’t know what [Trump’s] thinking or how we would go about doing that. That fight, as you know, was six years ago now. And so, if he’s got some ideas, we’re open to them.”