Most Americans remember the late Sen. John McCain’s thumbs-down vote that ultimately doomed the Republicans’ plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act. President Donald Trump certainly won’t let it go.
In the first year of Trump’s presidency, with control of Congress and the White House, Republicans tried to ram through a partisan repeal bill with absolutely no replacement. Thanks to millions of people across the country making their voices heard, it failed with that dramatic vote on the Senate floor. While that moment lives on, many Americans may not know that an even greater threat to our health care has just come before the courts.
Yesterday, Trump’s true health care plan was on full display when his Justice Department argued in court to terminate the ACA. If Trump and Republicans have their way, millions of people will see their costs increase, their protections from insurance companies eliminated, and their health care disappear.
Since the ACA was signed into law, Republicans have been waging a war on our health care. In 2018, a year after the Republicans’ repeal bill failed, Democrats won a majority in the House of Representatives because of health care. Did that cause Trump and Republicans to abandon their zeal to destroy our health care? Nope.
Instead, they turned to the courts to do what they could not do in Congress. And the president and Republicans continue to sabotage the law any way they can and promise to repeal it as soon as possible.
This is not just some partisan ideological fight. It’s a matter of life and death. If this lawsuit is successful, power will go back to insurance companies, and they would be able to once again deny coverage and charge you more if you have a pre-existing condition.
Up to 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions such as cancer, asthma or heart disease could be at risk. The Trump administration is already siding with insurance companies by letting them sell junk insurance plans that allow insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. The Trump lawsuit would make this far worse.
Should the court rule in Trump’s favor, costs would go up. Insurance companies would be able to sell you insurance that won’t cover the cost of prescription drugs. Tax credits that help pay for millions of people’s premiums would be gone. Insurance companies could impose lifetime and annual limits on care, forcing people to pay more for the same care. We should be lowering costs, not raising them.
Women in particular would be hit hard. Insurance companies can go back to charging them more just because of their gender. They would be forced to pay more because insurance companies could decide not to cover maternity care. Access to no-cost contraception would be gone.
Not only that, people could lose their coverage altogether. The uninsured rate would skyrocket by 65 percent. Nearly 17 million people who get coverage through Medicaid expansion could be kicked off, and young adults would not be guaranteed to stay on their parents’ coverage until age 26.
Polls consistently show the American people want their elected leaders to work together to lower health costs, particularly prescription drug costs, and guarantee protections for people with pre-existing conditions. But instead, the president and Republicans in Congress are doing the opposite.
The president once famously said health care is “complicated,” but his plan is devastatingly simple: Raise your costs; take away your insurance; discriminate against you if you’re sick; and give more power to the drug and insurance companies. The next time you hear Trump and Republicans talk about how great their health care plan is, remember whose side they are on. It’s not yours.
Leslie Dach is the founder and chair of Protect Our Care and served as senior counselor to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration.
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