With Election Day looming, Republicans around the country, at every ballot level, are engaged in a party-wide effort to pull the proverbial wool over voters' eyes on health care. It's best summed up in a recent tweet from President Donald Trump, which is, even by his mendacious standards, astonishing: "Republicans will totally protect people with Pre-Existing Conditions, Democrats will not!"
This isn't just an attempt by Republicans to jump on a popular train; it's an attempt to jump on a train they have been trying to derail for years, and will finally dynamite if they maintain control of Congress. They would destroy it despite the fact that, whatever they claim, they have no realistic plan with which to replace it. Americans everywhere need to understand that as they enter the voting booths.
The GOP's efforts to raise and carry the pre-existing torch is something of an unintended compliment to former President Barack Obama, considering how they've been so intent on killing his namesake program and its central element.
Before the Affordable Care Act — which the GOP derisively nicknamed Obamacare — insurance companies routinely refused to cover pre-existing conditions at realistic rates. Obamacare is clunky and flawed, but millions of those consumers got affordable coverage for the first time.
Nonetheless, Republicans spent most of Obama's presidency and beyond trying to kill it. Many of the system's problems they complain about today are the result of their own sabotage.
But Obamacare has been wildly successful in one respect: Leaving Americans with pre-existing conditions out in the cold is no longer acceptable to wide majorities of Americans. Obamacare has fundamentally changed our national thinking on that, to the point that even Republican partisans now pretend they've embraced the concept of guaranteed coverage all along.
We say "pretend" because that's what the GOP's main proposed Obamacare replacement bill last year did. It required insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions at standard rates — but states could opt out, effectively returning customers to the bad old days. Somehow, that last part never made Republicans' press releases.
The charade continues. Twenty Republican-led states are suing to finish off Obamacare. In Congress, numerous new Republican show-bills claim to cover pre-existing conditions but, according to experts, plainly don't.
Just days ago, as Trump tweeted about how strong Republicans are on pre-existing conditions, his administration quietly instituted rules to allow states to circumvent those requirements.
This isn't the usual political spin. This is an entire national party attempting to deceive America about its stance on an issue that directly affects the health and finances of millions of Americans. If you're one of them — or even if you aren't — that should factor into your vote Nov. 6.
REPRINTED FROM THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH