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GOP Pre-Existing Conditions Lawsuit “A Nightmare For Senate Republicans”

The dangerous GOP lawsuit to overturn the health care law that guarantees coverage protections for people with pre-existing conditions has increasingly been in the spotlight in recent days after the Trump administration filed its Supreme Court brief in support of the lawsuit last week. Senate Republicans now face growing political fallout for enabling a legal attack that could wipe away the entire health care law in the middle of a pandemic.

The Daily 202 reported on how the administration’s core legal argument — “that every Republican who voted for the tax cuts three years ago knowingly voted to destroy the 2010 law in its entirety” — is a “nightmare for Senate Republicans” across the board, including Senator Susan Collins. The lawsuit “will inevitably appear as factual citations to back up attack ads” that will be used “as a cudgel” against vulnerable GOP senators across the country, on an issue that cost Republicans the House in 2018.

That’s why vulnerable Senators like Martha McSally have resorted to lying to voters instead, and attempting to rewrite their records. The falsehood that President Trump and Republicans will “always” protect those with pre-existing conditions earned a “Bottomless Pinocchio” from the Washington Post’s fact checker because it has been repeated so many times.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Washington Post: The Daily 202: Trump’s legal argument for throwing out all of the ACA is a nightmare for Senate Republicans

  • Solicitor General Noel Francisco packs in a string of rhetorical flourishes that may draw cheers at a Federalist Society legal conference but will inevitably appear as factual citations to back up attack ads that Democrats plan to run this fall against vulnerable Senate Republicans, in a redux of the messaging that proved so potent in the 2018 midterms.
  • The Trump team’s core argument is that every Republican who voted for the tax cuts three years ago knowingly voted to destroy the 2010 law in its entirely, not just to get rid of the mandate that individuals buy health insurance. And, because the Supreme Court previously upheld the constitutionality of the law on the grounds that the individual mandate is a tax, Trump’s lawyers say that the whole system became invalid once Congress got rid of the penalty for not carrying health insurance. 
  • This brief can also be used as a cudgel to attack GOP Sens. Thom Tillis (N.C.), Joni Ernst (Iowa) and David Perdue (Ga.), who separately each voted to repeal the underlying law… Appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), who trails Democratic challenger Mark Kelly in multiple polls, also voted for the tax bill as a member of the House.
  • From a political perspective, the timing of the Trump administration’s maneuver to get rid of the law, root and branch, is suboptimal for GOP candidates on the ballot this year. The justices are unlikely to make a final decision until after the November election on the legal challenge by Republican state attorneys general, ensuring that this looms as an issue in the fall campaign.

Wall Street Journal: Democrats Campaign on Health Care as Trump Tries to End Obamacare

  • Democrats are also using the lawsuit to criticize Republicans in contested re-election fights, such as Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona.
  • Democrats made Republican efforts to repeal the health law a central argument in the lead-up to the 2018 midterms, saying undoing the law would hurt people with pre-existing health conditions. Under the ACA, insurers cannot deny coverage to people because of existing conditions or charge them more for plans. Democrats took control of the House and won seven governorships in 2018, and they are hoping to use a similar strategy to retake the Senate.
  • “This was an issue already percolating in the electorate that post-Covid-19 has become very urgent for a lot of families,” said Cal Cunningham, a Democrat who is challenging GOP Sen. Thom Tillis in North Carolina.
  • The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Friday went after Ms. McSally… calling her a threat to people with pre-existing conditions.

Washington Post: Trump administration’s move to end Obamacare amid pandemic reignites political fight

  • The ties between the pandemic and access to Obamacare were underscored this week with a new report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which found that 487,000 Americans used a special enrollment period for the health care law after losing their own coverage, probably due to job losses.
  • The potency of health care as an issue was evident in advance of the filing, with Democrats — anticipating the Thursday deadline for the Justice Department to respond in the case — eagerly holding media calls promoting the Affordable Care Act and attacking incumbent Republican senators for their attempts to repeal it or insufficiently defend it.
  • In Maine, Democrat Sara Gideon, who is running against Sen. Susan Collins (R), criticized the four-term senator for casting a “key vote” that prompted the legal challenge from the Republican attorneys general.
  • But with its legal filing, the Trump administration directly contradicted [Collins’] position, arguing that even provisions regarding preexisting conditions or high-risk medical histories could not be severed from the mandate.
  • A Kaiser Family Foundation poll this month found that 53 percent of voters trust Biden more on health care issues, compared with 38 percent for Trump. And according to internal Democratic polling of key Senate battleground states conducted in May, GOP support for the legal challenge against Obamacare was the top negative against Senate Republicans, particularly among swing and independent voters, according to a party official familiar with the numbers who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the findings.
  • “Americans should look at what the Trump administration and Republicans do — not what they say — on health care,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). “Republicans remain unflinching in their cruel and callous campaign to eliminate Americans’ health-care coverage, even as the country faces down the biggest global health crisis in recent history.”
  • Health care has also been a dominant theme in televisions spots run this week by Democratic Senate candidates and groups working to elect them, popping up as an issue in ads in Arizona, Montana, North Carolina and Colorado.
  • In private, Republican officials working on down-ballot races vented their frustration with the administration’s decision to revive the health care fight, while acknowledging that repealing Obamacare remains a core issue for their base. The timing of the filing, amid the pandemic, was also particularly unhelpful, according to Republicans.
  • “In a sea of stupid decisions this administration makes on a daily basis, this one stands out,” complained one Senate GOP aide Friday, granted anonymity to candidly assess the White House’s moves.

Washington Post: Bottomless Pinocchio: Trump’s claim that he will ‘always’ protect those with preexisting conditions

  • Just as the number of weekly coronavirus cases reached a new high in the United States, the Trump administration filed a legal brief asking the Supreme Court to strike down the entire Affordable Care Act.
  • About 20 million people covered through the act could lose their health insurance if Trump succeeds, among many other consequences bearing directly on the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Trump has claimed nearly 100 times since he took office that he will “always protect people with preexisting conditions,” but the legal brief filed by the Justice Department last week belies the president’s claim. It says point blank that the entire Affordable Care Act — including its coverage guarantee for people with preexisting conditions — “must fall.”
  • Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress reduced the individual mandate’s penalty to zero in late 2017 as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, nullifying but not repealing that section of the law. A federal appeals court ruled in December that the individual mandate, already down to zero, was unconstitutional.
  • Now, the GOP state attorneys general argue that Congress meant to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act when it reduced the mandate to zero. The same argument appears in the Justice Department’s brief, signed by Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco.
  • “The ACA remains in effect while the litigation is pending,” according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. “However, if all or most of the law ultimately is struck down, it will have complex and far-reaching consequences for the nation’s health care system, affecting nearly everyone in some way. A host of ACA provisions could be eliminated, including protections for people with preexisting conditions, subsidies to make individual health insurance more affordable, expanded eligibility for Medicaid, coverage of young adults up to age 26 under their parents’ insurance policies, coverage of preventive care with no patient cost-sharing, closing of the doughnut hole under Medicare’s drug benefit, and a series of tax increases to fund these initiatives.”
  • Trump says he will always protect people with preexisting health conditions who need to buy affordable insurance. But what is he actually doing with the powers of the presidency?
  • In the middle of a pandemic, against the advice of many Republicans, the president is asking the Supreme Court to strike down the entire Affordable Care Act — including its coverage guarantee for patients with preexisting conditions.
  • Trump has offered no plan to replace these, or any, provisions of the law. He has supported legislation to water down protections for people with preexisting conditions, and his administration has issued new rules promoting plans that allow insurance companies to deny coverage or charge higher prices to sick patients.
  • In addition to being a Four Pinocchio claim, this is a Bottomless Pinocchio — our worst rating — because Trump has repeated the falsehood more than 20 times. In fact, he’s nearing 100 repetitions. In our new book, “Donald Trump and His Assault on Truth,” we labeled this one of Trump’s top 10 whoppers.

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