Editorial: The GOP isn’t the healthcare party


Olivier Douliery | TNS

President Donald Trump participates in a health care roundtable event in the Roosevelt Room of the White House Jan. 23 in Washington, D.C. Trump announced Tuesday that he wanted to make the GOP the party of health care.

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he wanted to make the GOP the party of health care.

If that sounds unconvincing, it’s because the declaration came a day after the administration filed a case with a federal appeals court calling for the entire Affordable Care Act to be struck down. Getting rid of the ACA and Trump’s statement are both mistakes that will hurt both the American people and Trump’s reelection bid in 2020.

In the appeals court filing, the Justice Department agreed with a federal judge in Texas who ruled the law was invalid. This is different from the administration’s previous stance on the matter, when it claimed only the community rating rule and the guaranteed issue requirement were illegal, but the rest of the law was valid. The community rating rule prohibits insurers from varying premiums based on factors such as age, gender or health, and the guaranteed issue requirement ensures protections for people with preexisting conditions.

These are just two of the many facets of the ACA that have benefited Americans and that the Trump administration wants to remove. Since the ACA was passed in 2010, 20 million people have gained health insurance. Children can now stay on their parents’ health care plan until the age of 26. By 2020, the ACA will have phased out of the Medicare “donut hole” that cost seniors out of pocket for prescription drugs within a certain limit. Additionally, chain restaurants and vending machines now have to provide nutrition information.

But Trump wants to get rid of all these benefits and more, and he hasn’t put forward a plan to replace what Americans would lose — further proof that the GOP isn’t the party of health care. And if it continues to push for eliminating the ACA, it can’t be.

Republicans battled against former President Barack Obama when he was first trying to get the law passed, and they haven’t eased up in their criticisms of it. Rep. John Fleming, R.-La., even called it “the most dangerous piece of legislation ever passed in Congress” in 2013. But since then, they’ve supported the portion of the ACA that protects those with preexisting conditions, one of the most popular features of the law.

This puts Republicans in a difficult situation, stuck between supporting their president and upholding their claims during the 2018 midterm elections of wanting to save the preexisting conditions portion.

Trump already attempted to get rid of the ACA and replace it with his own health care plan, which notably would not have protected those with preexisting conditions from higher premiums. It also would have allowed insurers to provide fewer health benefits than the ACA did, which speaks volumes about Republicans’ mentality on this point.

Because even if Trump comes up with another replacement plan that Congress passes, the GOP certainly can’t call itself the party for health care.


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