The Washington Post, CNN, and other news organizations published long, in-depth articles about the 2017 Republican tax bill. The most cynical man in Washington, Mitch McConnell, needed to find extra money for his tax cut. And, of course, neither Mitch nor President Trump ever passed up a chance to attack the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Eliminating the penalty for those people who failed to purchase insurance, the Individual Mandate, could free up as much as $300 billion. (By the way, this is the very definition of cynicism. Without the mandate, young and healthy people would skip insurance, prices would skyrocket, fewer people would purchase coverage, and the government would eventually save money since fewer people would get the tax credit subsidy help to pay their premiums!) If you read the articles or anything else from that time, you will not find any mention of the tax bill making the PPACA unconstitutional. Senators like Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) were still in discussions with their Democratic counterparts to strengthen other provisions of the law.
Senator McConnell was very aware of the dangerous game he was playing. When asked in June of 2018 about the potential damage of the Texas lawsuit and the Trump administration’s position, Mr. McConnell said, “Everybody I know in the Senate, everybody is in favor of maintaining coverage for preexisting conditions…There is no difference in opinion whatsoever”. But Mitch had years and years of actions that directly contradicted his words. There were dozens of votes to repeal Obamacare. There was the fictitiously named Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017. And that brings us to today.
The Trump administration filed its brief last night for the Supreme Court’s review of the Texas lawsuit. Trump’s attorneys argue that the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act should be eliminated. ALL OF IT. The administration’s position is clear. Guaranteed coverage for preexisting conditions? Ditch it. Preventive Care? Nope. Coverage for children to age 26? NO! The law is irredeemable. And they say it is all Mitch’s fault.
From Page 13 of the brief:
Nothing the 2017 Congress did demonstrates it would have intended the rest of the ACA to continue to operate in the absence of these three integral provisions. The entire ACA thus must fall with the individual mandate…
Our Republican friends have voted countless times to repeal Obamacare. The Trump administration just called their bluff. And yes, it is a bluff. Always was. There is no replacement waiting in the wings. We are talking about nearly 20% of our economy. We are talking about the way most Americans access and pay for health care. And by the way, we are in the middle of a pandemic.
The Supreme Court will hear this case in October and won’t render a decision until after the election. How convenient. This may be all a game for some of our elected representatives in Washington. But it is not a game that anyone with preexisting conditions wants to play.
Picture – Right Game, Wrong Venue – David L Cunix