In its place, the White House offers mendacious rhetoric about bringing more and better coverage to the most vulnerable Americans, while working in plain view to do exactly the opposite: to return America to a place where having a pre-existing medical condition can mean personal bankruptcy or worse.
Since Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., helped bring us to this moment by signing on to the underlying lawsuit while he was Missouri's attorney general, he has an obligation to explain to Missourians who could be affected by this what exactly they're supposed to do.
The multistate lawsuit that Hawley and other red-state attorneys general filed effectively asks the courts to legislate from the bench and do what congressional Republicans couldn't: End Obamacare. Though based on what many scholars say are specious legal arguments, an ideologically friendly federal judge in Texas ruled for the plaintiffs. It's now on appeal.
The Trump administration initially said it would defend most of the law still in place. But in a surprise letter Monday, the Justice Department told the appellate court it now backs complete invalidation of the law.
The disruption would be momentous. More than 11 million Americans currently under ACA marketplace plans would lose them. More than 50 million Americans with pre-existing medical conditions would go back to being virtually uninsurable because the ACA requirement that insurance companies provide them with affordable coverage would be gone.
Medicaid expansion that covers more than 12 million Americans would also be gone. Young people would no longer be able to stay on their parents' health plans through age 26. Costs for Medicare recipients and hospitals would rise. Rules requiring coverage of things like contraception and preventative care would disappear.
Hawley told The Washington Post he still supports eliminating the ACA, adding: "We've got to cover people with pre-existing conditions apart from Obamacare, which is what I talked about a lot." He did — while supporting a lawsuit to eliminate such coverage. Neither Hawley nor his party has even proposed a realistic replacement, let alone moved to put one in place.
And how would President Donald Trump address the gaping health care hole he proposes to open? He offered typically empty bluster: "The Republican Party will soon be known as the party of health care. You watch."
America will. And if this suit succeeds, the walloping the GOP took in House races last year — largely because of Republican intransigence on health care — would look like a pin prick compared to the political health crisis the GOP could be facing.
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