And so, yesterday the Trump administration said that they will no longer defend any challenges to the Affordable Care Act, they want the courts to help them get rid of the current health care system in its entirety, just strike the whole thing down. Pffft, gone, goodbye.
The immediate impact of this would be that 21 million Americans who were able to get health care because of the ACA would lose it. It would additionally mean that the 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions would be at risk of not being able to health insurance. It would also mean that all young Americans would not be able to stay on their parents' health insurance until they're 26 years old and therefore risk losing coverage if they can't afford it. It would also mean that every American on Medicare would likely begin paying more for their medication. And all of that's just for starters.
Here's the thing --
Yes, it would be horrifically disastrous to the health of Americans if the conservative courts went along with this, though I'm sure such an action would get challenged and make its way to the Supreme Court. I would like to think that this Trump effort would not survive challenges and the law, and I could be very right. Or not, I have no idea. I do have an idea of one thing about this, though: in one very important regard it doesn't matter what the courts decide.
Why not? Because however the courts rule, politically Trump has thrown down the gauntlet and now officially declared that this is his plan, he wants the American healthcare system thrown out in full and offered nothing to replace it. And given what we've seen from the Republican Congress over the past two years, it's a safe bet that at least most of the GOP will support this, as well. Perhaps they all will, though I don't think so since there are still at-risk Republican politicians who don't have a death wish. Because make no mistake, this risks crushing the GOP -- whether or not the courts allow it. This is now the Republican platform. It is what Trump wants. Getting rid of our healthcare system and offer nothing to replace it is Trump policy.
Remember the 2018 mid-term election? It was about five months ago and in all the papers. And in that election, there was a massive Blue Wave that swept Democrats back in control of the House of Representatives to the point where they didn't just squeak in, but now have 38 seat majority. And what was the #1 issue that voters said was the most important above all? A hint: it was not the economy, it was not jobs, it was not Russia, it was not immigration (despite there apparently being a "National Emergency!" [sic] as hordes of rampaging aliens invaders were supposedly outside our door coming to attack America). It was -- health care.
Health care was The Most Important Issue to Americans just a mere five months ago, and throughout the country they overwhelmingly voted Democrats back in control. By A LOT. And this cam when there wasn't a massive worry about losing their health care, just concerns about how the Republican Party was chipping away at their protections through Republican Congressional actions and GOP state lawsuits, and the voting public wanted to support it.
And now? Now, Trump -- the leader of the acquiescent, enabling Republican Party -- has laid out his plan to get rid of absolutely everything in the U.S. health care system, throwing out the Affordable Care Act.
How much do Americans actually like the Affordable Care Act. Last October, right before the mid-term election, a "Fox News" poll (and to reiterate, this is "Fox News," remember...) showed that the American public supported the ACA -- also know as Obamacare (!!! -- and again, this is "Fox News" and Obama) by a margin of 53-45%.
And yes, the Trump-led Republican Party wants to get rid of Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act and have nothing in place to fix what they.are now on record trying to get rid of in its entirety.
You want to talk about actually, truly, really "putting us all at risk"? This is that on steroids, a policy that wants to literally put the lives of tens of millions of Americans at risk -- maybe as many as 100 million Americans.
And even if the courts don't allow it to happen -- Trump and the Republican Party want it to.
This is their plan. This is now GOP policy. Whatever happens in the courts. This is what the Republican Party WANTS.
Just five months after the public overwhelmingly voted for candidates who support the Affordable Care Act, this is one of the most insanely stupid political policy decisions I have ever seen. And that's separate from the timing and separate from personally hating it. As a political matter, mind you, I'm thrilled to see the fascist-enabling Republican Party destroy itself. As a human being, I'm aghast by it, and don't want to see the GOP destroyed by this action coming to fruition. The good news though is that hopefully we'll get the best of both worlds -- the courts not allowing it to happen, and voters destroying the Republican Party at the polls in 2020 because they know that bizarrely this is actually what the GOP wants.
Yes, yes, I'm sure the most base of the Trump base will love this, as the lemmings go over the cliff. (Though, to be fair, some of the base might have their hair set on fire when they realize their Grand Leader wants to take away their health care.) So, cool, Republicans will now get the 20% of voters who they were already going to get anyway. The huge problem for them now is that this policy locks in every Democrat including those who voted Republican in 2016, and risks almost everyone else among all Independents, and even the rest of the non-base GOP. There were 135 million Americans who voted In 2016, Republican can now comfortably count on 30 million of them. Democrats can count on 65 million. And the remaining 40 million know that the Republican Party policy is to take away their health care -- which was the #1 issue among voters when they cast their ballots only five months ago. And none of this even considers all the other many issues that has kept Trump's approval around 42%. Rest assured that Democrats will run on this issue -- they did five months ago and it worked Really Well for them. They're not idiots. They'll remember. They'll do it again. They're probably already make the TV ads.
To be clear, no, the election is not over. There's a long way to go. Many things can happen and change -- whether in favor of Republicans or even more so against them. But this is a really, really, really bad starting point for Republicans on the #1 issue to voters.
Trump actually wants the courts to throw out the Affordable Care Act and take away health insurance from many tens of millions of Americans. And as critical as that is from a health standpoint, from a political perspective it doesn't matter what the courts decide -- this is now the official Trump Republican policy. It is insane.
"Repeal and Replace with the best, most beautiful health care you can imagine, folks" usually implies that there not only will be a plan that is, in fact, the best, most beautiful health care you can imagine -- but that you replace it with something.
And no, a poison pill doesn't count.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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