President Trump is now on a tweet-a-thon claiming that he has saved healthcare coverage for pre-existing conditions, when one of his obsessive priorities since his election has been to wipe out the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which guarantees that protection.
Yesterday, I woke up to this tweet from Trump:
And then, he added:
The truth is that Trump has been obsessed with undoing every achievement of President Obama and he will stop at nothing until he has accomplished that. Witness his attack on the environment and climate change, for example.
The Enemy of the ACA
But this claim is one of his most outrageous. He is the single biggest enemy of the ACA and that is where protections for pre-existing condition coverage reside. Just last week the Justice Department filed a brief in a lawsuit filed by a group of Republican governors and state attorneys general challenging the healthcare law. The Trump administration backs that lawsuit, which if successful, will result in the entire ACA law being declared unconstitutional.
And yes, Trump supported and signed legislation eliminating the requirement that individuals must purchase health insurance coverage or face penalties at tax time. Indeed, that was unpopular. But it was one of the foundations of the ACA and now the White House argues that by doing that Congress has made the entire law invalid.
Indeed, the law is in jeopardy because of that lawsuit. In mid-December a federal judge in Texas struck down the ACA saying the individual mandate is unconstitutional and the rest of the law cannot stand without it. Now, a New Orleans appeals court is waiting for additional information, but has indicated skepticism about the mandate. If the Texas ruling is sustained, Democratic governors are bound to appeal and the issue is likely to land in the U.S. Supreme Court, which now has a Trumplican majority.
The GOP to the Rescue?
What about Trump's statement that if Republicans regain control of Congress they would provide the "best ever" healthcare coverage with protections for pre-existing conditions?
Just look at their record. Remember when the late Sen. John McCain, his head showing stitches from brain surgery, bravely stood up in the Senate chamber and gave thumbs down to the GOP effort to kill the ACA? They had no plan ready to replace Obamacare at that time, and millions of Americans would have lost their coverage. That has not changed.
Why is Trump doing this now?
Clearly, it's because he wants to go on the offensive and counter certain Democratic charges that he's responsible for ending healthcare for millions of Americans should the court case that he and his GOP pals support ultimately succeed.
It's what he does. He creates a crisis then blames it on others. This time millions of Americans face the very real certainty of losing their health insurance coverage, and it will be entirely the fault of Trump and the GOP -- despite Trump's tweets.
Politically, this tactic is bound to backfire. Currently, Democratic presidential candidates are focused on debating the pros and cons of Medicare for All. But if this court case succeeds, the focus of the 2020 presidential campaign will shift to the broader issue of healthcare overall, and which party -- and candidate -- to trust with getting it right.
Republicans and Trump who will have been responsible for ending coverage for millions of Americans -- including coverage for pre-existing conditions?
Or Democrats who fought for the ACA, defended the ACA, have spent months debating how to make healthcare in the U.S. even better, and will have a strong and effective healthcare plan in place heading into the fall election campaign?
My bet is that Trump's healthcare lies will not hold up when tested in that campaign.