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Ignoring Clear Lessons of the Midterm Elections, Republicans Celebrate Decision Ending Protections for Pre-Existing Conditions and Ripping Health Care Away from Millions

By December 16, 2018No Comments

On Friday, hand-picked, conservative, right-wing federal District Court Judge Reed O’Connor ruled the entire Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. His decision would end protections for people with pre-existing conditions, re-institute lifetime limits on coverage, implement an age tax on older Americans, end Medicaid expansion, and take away coverage from tens of millions of Americans. In short, an absolute disaster for Americans and their health care.

Despite this, Republicans are praising the decision:

CNN: President Trump “Immediately Tweeted In Celebration.” “President Donald Trump, who campaigned in 2016 on a promise to undo Obamacare, was thwarted in Congress last year by a lone vote from the late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain. Trump immediately tweeted in celebration on Friday and called on Congress to act. ‘As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster! Now Congress must pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions. Mitch and Nancy, get it done!’ Trump wrote. He later added, ‘Wow, but not surprisingly, ObamaCare was just ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL by a highly respected judge in Texas. Great news for America!’” [CNN, 12/15]

Washington Examiner: Republicans Are Using The Ruling To Once Again Revive Repeal. “Republicans revived their calls to replace Obamacare in the wake of a federal judge declaring the healthcare law unconstitutional, but Democrats indicated they had no plans to abandon the legal battle ahead… Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said Friday night that she expected it would land before the high court. ‘The judge’s decision vindicates President Trump’s position that Obamacare is unconstitutional,’ she said… The actions in the courts are another way that Republicans are aiming to undo the law. The latest ruling follows a slew of challenges Obamacare has faced both in Congress and in the courts since it passed.” [Washington Examiner, 12/15]

CMS Administrator Seema Verma: “Obamacare Has Been Struck Down.” “Obamacare has been struck down by a highly respected judge. The judge’s decision vindicates President Trump’s position that Obamacare is unconstitutional. Once again, the President calls on Congress to replace Obamacare and act to protect people with preexisting conditions…and provide Americans with quality affordable healthcare. We expect this ruling will be appealed to the Supreme Court. Pending the appeal process, the law remains in place.” [Seema Verma Twitter, 12/15]

House Energy and Commerce Chair Greg Walden: We Need New Health Care Legislation. “Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., echoed the calls for new legislation. ‘We have a rare opportunity for truly bipartisan healthcare reform,’ he said.” [Washington Examiner, 12/15]

House Ways and Means Chair Kevin Brady: Ruling Was “No Surprise” Because ACA Was “Poorly Written, Crafted By Democrats Behind Closed Doors.” “No surprise. Poorly written, crafted by Democrats behind closed doors & stuffed with special interests that drove up health costs for millions of working Americans. Time to start over – both parties working together this time to LOWER costs.” [Kevin Brady Twitter, 12/15]

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton: Ruling Lets Congress Replace “Failed Social Experiment” That Is The Affordable Care Act. “Meanwhile Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is declaring victory. Paxton praised the ruling as halting an unconstitutional exertion of power by the federal government. ‘Our lawsuit seeks to effectively repeal Obamacare, which will give President Trump and Congress the opportunity to replace the failed social experiment with a plan that ensures Texans and all Americans will again have greater choice about what health coverage they need and who will be their doctor,’ said Paxton’s statement.” [Buzzfeed, 12/15]

The groundwork for the lawsuit was laid by the Trump Administration:

CNBC: While President Trump Was Unable To Repeal ACA, He Was “Able To Dismantle Key Parts Of It.” “While President Donald Trump was previously unable to repeal Obamacare, he was able to dismantle key parts of it that several health policy researchers are blaming for much of the drop in enrollment this year. He applauded the judge’s ruling in a tweet late Friday. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement praising the ruling. ‘Obamacare has been struck down by a highly respected judge. The judge’s decision vindicates President Trump’s position that Obamacare is unconstitutional.’” [CNBC, 12/14]

Vice News: Lawsuit Only Possible Because Trump’s Department Of Justice “Made The Unusual Decision To Not Defend Existing Federal Law.” “The lawsuit to dismantle the program was led by political leaders from 20 conservative-leaning states that filed a complaint in February, arguing the law couldn’t constitutionally stand without the tax… The Justice Department made the unusual decision to not defend existing federal law, siding with the states instead. California’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, is leading the defense of the health care law.” [Vice, 12/15]

Washington Times: The Trump Administration “Did Not Defend The Law In Court.” “The Trump administration did not defend the law in court, and sided with the states on some points. Yet it asked the judge to wait until open enrollment was complete, to avoid chaos in the markets. But that didn’t happen.” [Washington Times, 12/14]

And it is the American people would be left to suffer:

CBS News: Invalidated Law Would Mean The End Of Protections For People With Pre-Existing Conditions And The Ability Of Children To Stay On Their Parents’ Coverage Until Age 26. ““Democrats were able to retake the House in large part because they campaigned on health care issues, warning that Republicans would try to strip away some of the more popular provisions of the ACA, such as protection for pre-existing conditions. Around 130 million people in the United States have pre-existing conditions, and without the ACA, insurers would no longer be required to cover those conditions. If the law is invalidated, it could scrap other well-liked sections of the law, such as the part that allows parents to keep young adult children on their health care coverage until age 26.” [CBS News, 12/15]

Associated Press: Coverage For 20 Million Americans At Stake Under This Ruling. “About 20 million people have gained health insurance coverage since the law passed in 2010 without a single Republican vote. Currently, about 10 million have subsidized private insurance through the health law’s insurance markets, while an estimated 12 million low-income people are covered through its Medicaid expansion.” [AP, 12/15]

  • Fox News: Ruling “Could Suddenly Disrupt The Health Insurance Of Millions Of Americans.” “The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was struck down by a Texas judge on Friday, a move that could suddenly disrupt the health insurance status of millions of Americans. The decision comes amid a six-week open enrollment period for the program.” [Fox News, 12/15]
  • CNN: Ruling “Throws Into Doubt The Future Of Health Coverage For Millions Of Americans.” “Legal experts say the ruling won’t immediately affect Americans’ health coverage, and a group of states led by California is already vowing to appeal. But the invalidation of the landmark health care law popularly known as Obamacare throws into doubt the future of health coverage for millions of Americans on the Obamacare exchanges and in Medicaid expansion.” [CNN, 12/15]

Politico: “Even The Trump Administration’s Own Plans To Lower Drug Prices” Would Be Illegal Under Ruling. “Expanded Medicaid for millions. Penalties for poorly performing hospitals. Even the Trump administration’s own plans to lower drug prices. Those and many other initiatives would all be illegal under a federal judge’s sweeping decision that the entire Affordable Care Act must be struck down — the latest shock to the nation’s health system after a decade of upheavals, including two fights over the ACA that reached the Supreme Court.” [Politico, 12/15]