President Donald Trump, feeling exuberant from an exoneration that was not at all an exoneration from the Mueller investigation, has again decided to set his sights on destroying the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
Trump is once more proving he never learns from anything, and GOP incumbents are wondering what to do with this new landmine as the 2020 election approaches.
As last year’s midterms approached, Trump went around the country to campaign for Republicans, including more than one stop in West Virginia, mostly on a strategy of fear and anger directed at minorities like immigrants and Muslims.
The Democrats, meanwhile, campaigned on health care. The ACA, they pointed out, provides health insurance for millions (especially in poorer states) and doesn’t allow insurers to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Democrats in office, like Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., leaned heavily on having defeated Trump’s efforts to repeal the ACA with no replacement plan in place. Dems looking to beat incumbent Republicans noted those officeholders had tried to undermine constituents’ health care.
Democrats took control of the U.S. House in the election. Manchin stayed in the Senate. Exit polling showed health care was the No. 1 issue for voters, according to an article from National Public Radio.
Trump, of course, didn’t get the message voters sent. His renewed attack on the ACA is a gift to the Democrats for 2020, and Republicans again are recalculating how to bend their ideology to stand with a president who is pushing something their constituents don’t want. Some are now saying they won’t even talk about a repeal until Trump produces a detailed plan for replacement. Don’t hold your breath.
That’s the horse race of it all, but there’s an obvious deeper problem here. If the ACA is repealed, Americans will suffer. They will be denied health insurance, and their out-of-pocket medical expenses will soar. In a state like West Virginia, it would likely mean more medical providers would shut down, making health care even more inaccessible for rural residents.
While President Barack Obama was in office, the Republican Party relentlessly voted to repeal the ACA, because they knew the president would simply veto any legislation to that effect and they could tell their corporate backers they tried. When they gained a majority in both chambers of Congress and the White House, it was clear the GOP, Trump especially, had no clue what to replace the program with, and that woke up voters.
The ACA isn’t perfect, but no one wants to return to a time when an insurance company could deny a claim or even a coverage policy because it deigned something a pre-existing condition.
“The Republican Party will soon be known as the party of health care,” Trump told reporters earlier this week. Americans have seen what that looks like. There was no reason to believe Trump and the Republicans then, and there’s certainly no reason to believe the president now.