Even as the COVID-19 pandemic is showing a resurgence with over 20 states posting jumps in infections (in the thousands, daily) and millions of Americans are losing their employment-based health insurance, President Donald Trump is urging the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Trump’s Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a brief in support of Republican state attorneys general seeking to make the ACA unconstitutional.
The ACA has helped millions of Americans get affordable insurance through the government. It has also proven to be very valuable recently by helping over 500,000 people — who lost their insurance due to the national coronavirus shutdowns – get coverage through ACA. It’s estimated that 27 million people lost their employment-based health insurance coverage during the crisis.
If SCOTUS takes up the case and the President gets his way, the 22 million Americans enrolled in ACA, plus the new 500,000 enrollees, will all lose their health coverage at a time when it’s desperately needed.
The President’s recommendation shows how cruel and out-of-touch he is with struggling Americans. It shows his priority isn’t about helping Americans, but helping lobbyists and the powerful who’ve been wanting ACA dismantled ever since it became law.
The timing, in the midst of a pandemic, is unfathomable.
Consider how Asia and Europe were able to curb COVID-19 from spreading largely because governments there practically made testing and treatment free. Contrast that to in the U.S., where COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire, COVID-19 patients are getting hospitalization bills in the tens of thousands. Americans are losing their health coverage. Now the President wants to exacerbate the problem by forcing a hard hand on SCOTUS to discontinue ACA.
What’s wrong with this picture? This is not in any way helping to lift the country from the deadly grip of COVID-19.
The callousness and disregard for Americans’ health by the President and Republicans who’ve been challenging ACA should be remembered come election time in the fall.
Former vice president and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden said, “By siding with the Republican Attorneys-General who are seeking to invalidate the ACA in the U.S. Supreme Court, Trump has made clear where his priorities lie.
“Trump has decided he’d rather destroy President Obama’s legacy than protect the health care of millions upon millions of Americans. He’d rather look after the profits of the insurance industry than make sure people can access healthcare in their hour of need. It’s despicable.”
Supreme Court’s recent track record
Based on recent SCOTUS rulings, the President shouldn’t be too confident that he would be getting a favorable ruling from the High Court’s conservative-majority even if it decides to take up ACA.
Within the past few weeks SCOTUS has not been the trustworthy, indomitable conservative majority Trump has relied on for favorable rulings. In fact, it has sided with liberals on a few high profile issues including the following:
ON DACA: The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program intact. The Court ruled President Trump didn’t properly end the program in 2017. This means, at least in the short term, the 650,000 people enrolled in DACA will keep their protections – ability to work legally and be shielded from deportation.
ON LGBT DISCRIMINATION: The High Court ruled that federal law prohibits employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Two conservative justices joined the court’s four liberals in the decision: Neil Gorsuch, a 2017 Trump appointee who wrote the ruling, and Chief Justice John Roberts. In a 6-3 ruling, the justices decided that gay and transgender people are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex as well as race, color, national origin and religion.
ON ABORTION: Once again SCOTUS sided with liberals and found abortion restriction in Louisiana to be unconstitutional. The Louisiana law would have restricted access to abortion clinics by requiring doctors who perform the procedure to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Conservatives had hoped for a favorable ruling, believing that it would have set the stage for a challenge to Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.
Hope for ACA
Given SCOTUS’s recent rulings, it’s hopeful that ACA could survive yet another challenge in the High Court. The fact that millions of Americans are depending on health insurance during this pandemic is reason enough for ACA to continue. If struck down, besides millions losing their insurance, states would also lose expanded Medicaid and federal subsidies that come with the ACA. People with preexisting conditions could be denied coverage as it used to be, as well as young adults losing health coverage under their parents’ plan.
ACA needs work, but striking it down completely is not the solution. Messing with major structural changes to the nation’s health care system during a pandemic is certainly not the wisest course of action, and disastrous if the objective is to take away insurance coverage.