Congress Could Easily Make the Obamacare Supreme Court Case Disappear. Republicans Don't Want To.
Republicans are outraged - outraged! - that anyone would believe that they do not support protecting people with pre-existing conditions from discrimination on the basis of health insurance. They feel so strong about it that they do absolutely nothing about it.
Tears flowed on Capitol Hill and the election campaign as Republicans seek to distance themselves from a pending Supreme Court suit under the Affordable Care Act and its guarantee that health insurers will cover regardless of medical history and at no additional cost to anyone offer would nullify for pre-existing conditions.
"Every Republican agrees that we will protect pre-existing conditions," Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on CNBC last month. "One hundred out of 100 senators agree that no matter what happens to Obamacare, we will protect pre-existing conditions."
That would be good news if tied to reality. But Republicans in Congress and President Donald Trump have threatened that protection since Obamacare became law in 2010 and have yet to come up with an alternative plan to offer the same guarantee. And Senate Republicans begin Monday's hearings on Amy Coney Barrett's appointment to the Supreme Court where she would be able to kill the ACA.
If they really care that much about this problem, they could make the threat to pre-existing conditions go away in no time.
The legal argument against the ACA comes from Trump and the GOP-led Congress, which abolished the fines people faced under the law's “individual mandate” in 2017. According to the Republican civil servants who planned this legal challenge, the entire ACA went unconstitutional when the fines went away because the mandate itself didn't.
Doesn't that seem to make sense? That's because it isn't.
The entire basis for this lawsuit would disappear if Congress simply dropped the language in the ACA about the mandate. That's it. Nobody will miss the mandate, which is toothless anyway without the fines. Plus, people hated it and despite a broad consensus back in 2010, it turned out to be not very effective anyway.
GOP lawmakers could do that in minutes if they wanted to.
But they don't and they won't because they support the lawsuit. You support the repeal of the ACA. And they support less protection for people with pre-existing diseases.
GOP lawsuit threatens Obamacare
You wouldn't know if you asked her about it. Then you get blatant, easy-to-debunk lies - from a party that tried for almost 10 years to repeal the law that solved the problem of the pre-existing conditions and never suggested a new way to get the same result .
"We will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions," Trump said last week. This from the man who spent his presidency undermining the ACA and its provisions for people with pre-existing conditions.
It was Trump who allowed some insurers to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. It's Trump backing a Supreme Court case that would invalidate the entire ACA. It's Trump who is still raving about the Obamacare repeal with no plan whatsoever as to what he would do if he got it.
The GOP's most recent chess game is this lawsuit, filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) and other state officials and supported by the Trump administration. The plaintiffs are trying to get rid of every word of the ACA. Because the federal government has made an unusual decision not to defend a federal law, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and other Democratic attorneys general are on the defense. This is the third time a GOP lawsuit against Obamacare has been filed in the Supreme Court. the others failed.
The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments on the case next month, a week after election day. The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Barrett's nomination as her replacement appear to put the ACA at greater risk.
A ruling against the ACA would have far-reaching consequences, starting with an estimated 20 million people losing their health insurance. Medicaid expansion and health insurance subsidies would go away, as would additional aid for Medicare beneficiaries' drug bills and a host of other things.
And it would completely remove the protection of the law for people with pre-existing conditions and subject them again to an insurance market that doesn't want them.
Sometimes Republican lawmakers cross out questions about the Supreme Court case by observing that the lawsuit is likely to fail. "I don't think the courts will ever knock it down," said Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) Last year as the case worked its way through the judiciary. They may be right, but that doesn't excuse their empty rhetoric and inaction.
Trump has tried to back up his incessant lie about his position on pre-existing terms with wrong actions.
Last week he signed a meaningless executive order stating it was "United States policy ... to ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions can get the insurance of their choice," which is strange because the ACA is the policy is the United States on this matter already.
All this deception is understandable from a political point of view. The Republican position that the ACA is bad and that people with pre-existing conditions should have less protection from insurance companies is unpopular. Lies also affect many people.
But if Republicans in Congress want to turn their lies into the truth, they can overturn this ridiculous lawsuit.
Trump announces bogus new health plan
What Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination means to Obamacare
GOP senators refuse to bring lawsuits threatening Obamacare
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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