Donald Trump said during his presidential campaign that he wanted to send Hillary Clinton to jail, but in his victory speech he praised the former senator and secretary of state for her public service, saying, "We owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country."
Chris Christie, New Jersey's sometime governor and, briefly, Trump transition team leader, suggested later on NBC's Today Show that Trump's leading chants of "Lock her up" at his rallies didn't mean anything. "The politics are over now. The people have spoken. Time to move on to uniting the country," said Christie.
There should be no disagreement with that sentiment; though Trump supporters may be wondering what else he's going to change his mind about. He should start with his campaign promise to make repeal of the Affordable Care Act his top priority. That would be a mistake. It would send millions of Americans back into the ranks of the uninsured and increase health-care costs.
Now that the election is over, Trump doesn't owe anything to Republican Obamacare detractors like Sen. Pat Toomey, who either turned their backs on his campaign or were afraid to say they would vote for him. Trump has offered no viable alternative to Obamacare because he has none. The best thing he could do for America is fix the ACA.
Toomey told the Inquirer Editorial Board when he sought its endorsement that Obamacare is too flawed to fix and must be killed. But that's not true. Not even the U.S. Constitution was perfect as originally written, which is why it has been amended 27 times. The ACA's flaws are identifiable and solvable. In fact, its most serious problems require only that Republicans stop insisting on throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Take, for example, the 2017 premium hikes announced for popular plans available through the HealthCare.gov marketplace. The insurance companies offering those plans made overly optimistic calculations of how many healthy people and sick people they would be covering, and set their initial premiums too low. More sick people meant higher costs, so now they want higher premiums.
Republicans are telling a lot of sob stories about people whose premiums are going up, but many of them are not directly related to Obamacare. The ACA hikes will affect about 10 million people who couldn't get affordable benefits through their job. About 80 percent qualify for subsidies that will help them pay, but those with incomes too high to qualify for subsidies are looking for help.
The ACA calls for the government to collect money from insurers doing better than expected and use it to help those not doing as well to resist premium increases. Low enrollment has kept the program from collecting enough to fulfill that mission, however, and Congress has blocked government attempts to directly fill the gap. Why? Because Republicans are hell-bent on killing Obamacare.
Repealing the ACA will return millions to the ranks of the uninsured, including adult children covered by their parents and people with preexisting illnesses who couldn't find affordable coverage. Trump says he wants to unite America. He should start by telling Congress he won't risk people's health by playing politics.