While Republicans were unsuccessful in their attempts to repeal Obamacare in Congress, they did manage to get rid of one portion of the law in their tax plan—the individual mandate requiring adults to have insurance or pay a hefty tax penalty. Trump’s tax cut for the wealthy didn’t strike that portion of the law, but it did set the penalty to $0, effectively neutralizing it.
In the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections—when Trump and other Republicans were promising to save protections for preexisting conditions—GOP state attorneys general filed a new suit aimed at defeating Obamacare. Their claim rested on a batsh*t argument that without the individual mandate, the Affordable Care Act must be struck down.
“Once the heart of the ACA—the individual mandate—is declared unconstitutional, the remainder of the ACA must also fall,” the lawsuit said. (Of course, the mandate was not declared unconstitutional, the penalty for foregoing insurance was just reduced to zero.)
Trump’s Justice Department (headed by Jeff Sessions at the time) argued to remove protections of preexisting conditions, but didn’t go so far as to say the entire law should be struck down.
Unfortunately, a federal judge in Texas decided to go along with the more insane argument, and declared the entire law to be unconstitutional.
“The Court finds the Individual Mandate ‘is essential to’ and inserverable from ‘the other provisions’ of the ACA,” the judge wrote in his decision.
That case has now been appealed to the fifth circuit and could wind up in the Supreme Court. Trump’s DOJ (now under new management) is reversing course and adopting the more extreme position that Obamacare should be declared unconstitutional.
Trump, who STILL whines about John McCain foiling his plans to rid the country of the scourge that is Obamacare, responded to a question about the shift in DOJ’s position with another ham-handed attempt at rebranding.
NEW: After Justice Department shifted its position and agreed with a lower court that Obamacare should be struck down, Pres. Trump tells @marykbruce, "The Republican Party will soon be known as the party of health care, you watch." https://t.co/wh1A0taKCA pic.twitter.com/QnXY8074Xu
— ABC News (@ABC) March 26, 2019
The Republican Party will become “The Party of Healthcare!”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 26, 2019
Unfortunately for Trump and the GOP, coverage for preexisting conditions polls extremely well, with three out of four Americans viewing it favorably, including plenty of Republican voters. If Trump is successful, tens of millions of Americans could lose their health insurance.
Nancy Pelosi responded to Trump’s attacks on the ACA by unveiling a New Democratic plan to shore up Obamacare and keep costs down.
Days before the election, Republicans aired ads pretending to defend health care.
Today, they have a new message: people don't deserve quality health care and insurance companies should discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.
We *will* fight tooth and nail. https://t.co/wD2crNucfa
— Nancy Pelosi (@TeamPelosi) March 26, 2019
TRUMP ADMIN WANTS ALL OF OBAMACARE OVERTURNED: Speaker Pelosi reacts to news that the Trump admin has asked a court to completely terminate the ACA. House Dems are introducing new legislation aimed at expanding coverage and driving down health costs. https://t.co/qAxmCRgRuj
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) March 26, 2019
While Trump’s biggest boosters in the right-wing media like to crow about how many “promises” he’s kept, this is a glaring example of one he definitely didn’t. Trump not only promised to protect preexisting conditions before the 2018 midterms (while his DOJ took the opposite position in court), he also promised universal coverage during the 2016 election.
It’s mostly forgotten, but Donald Trump ran on universal health coverage that “the government’s gonna pay for.”
After getting elected, he pushed a variety of measures via legislation, executive action and in the courts that would reduce coverage.
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) March 20, 2019
It’s one of the most brazen bait-and-switches in modern political history, but Trump knows his supporters won’t learn the truth of his reversal. Fox News and other right-wing outlets will still tell their audience they have protections for preexisting conditions, even when the insurance companies don’t.