On July 19, as the White House worked to yank health care from millions of Americans during a pandemic, President Donald Trump assured Fox News’ Chris Wallace that he would sign “a full and complete health care plan” within two weeks. Those two weeks have come and gone with no plan to provide coverage should the GOP’s malicious legal assault on the Affordable Care Act succeed. It’s the same tune Americans have heard from this president for four years, and from his party for years before that: let us kill Obamacare, and we promise we’ll replace it with … something.
Of course, there is no something, and there isn’t going to be. This cannot be said enough: A vote in November for Trump and his Republican enablers is a vote to abandon hard-to-insure Americans to poverty, illness and, in many cases, death.
Barack Obama was elected in 2008 partially on the premise that health care is a human right. For more than a decade now, elected Republicans have been furiously undermining that premise. “Repeal and replace” was long their mantra, but never once has the “replace” portion been viably offered. What few proposals they’ve offered invoked the bad old days, when suffering a preexisting medical condition made patients effectively uninsurable.
Unable to kill Obamacare, Republicans did what they could to kneecap it. Legislatures in Missouri and other red states refused to expand Medicaid as offered under the program for the crass imperative of denying Obama a policy success.
When Republicans took full control in 2017 but still couldn’t kill the Affordable Care Act, they removed the tax penalty for failure to carry health insurance — a key provision that made the plan workable. Then Republican attorneys general across America (including Missouri’s Josh Hawley, now the state’s junior senator) filed a federal lawsuit arguing that, without that provision, the whole law must fall.
Now, as America struggles with its worst health crisis in a century, the White House has formally asked the Supreme Court to strike down Obamacare — to hell with those with preexisting conditions, including cancer, diabetes and even pregnancy. Trump’s pathetic claim that a magical GOP replacement is coming is, simply, a lie. It’s the same lie his whole party has been telling for years.
The court has done Trump and the GOP a favor by declining to rule on the suit until after the election. Which means that, as voters go to the polls Nov. 3, the specter of tens of millions of Americans suddenly thrown off their health care plans won’t be in plain sight.
But that specter should be on their minds because this is potentially the future, should the GOP retain the White House and Senate. For many vulnerable Americans, dislodging this dangerous party from power will be, literally, a matter of life and death.
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