Perhaps lost among the impeachment of President Donald Trump was the federal appeals court ruling to strike down part of the Affordable Care Act. The Court ruled that the individual mandate for insurance is unconstitutional. Additionally, they sent “back to a lower court the question of whether the rest of the law can remain without it.” The delay in a final decision on the entire ACA is exactly what the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans had hoped for.
The slow walk of this lawsuit through the courts likely means a final Supreme Court decision will not likely happen until after the 2020 election. Recent elections show Republicans fear health care being a top issue in elections. The reason? Because the ACA has become more popular as time has gone on and the GOP hasn’t created a viable alternative.
Recall in 2018, North Dakota’s Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem joined North Dakota to the lawsuit originating in Texas. Stenehjem has refused to tell the public who “asked” him to join the lawsuit. We do know North Dakota’s Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread helped Stenehjem in the decision. The lawsuit was filed following the rushed 2017 tax reform eliminating the individual mandate, the same provision the court deemed unconstitutional on December 18th, 2019.
The timing of the lawsuit made ACA a top 2018 campaign issue. When public pressure mounted against North Dakota’s Republican officials, they rushed to the podium to spread misleading claims on their health care records. The bottom line, they cannot run from what they’ve done, nor the facts. What happened in North Dakota? They all won their elections.
The 2018 election results in North Dakota didn’t happen nation-wide. Democrats took over the House in large part by focusing on health care. With 2020’s election looming, the Trump administration clearly doesn’t want the public’s focus to return to health care. They’d rather talk impeachment! So they hoped to stall what would be the unpopular decision of overturning protections for people with pre-existing conditions, allowing people to stay on their parent’s insurance longer, and Medicaid Expansion. Their hope came true yesterday.
Regardless of timing, the administration and Congressional Republicans own the uncertainty. Senator Kevin Cramer admitted he has no idea what happens to people’s health care if the law is struck down. They removed the individual mandate in their rushed 2017 tax reform. The removal of that provision led to the current lawsuit ND Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem joined attempting to overthrow the entire health care law. The Department of Justice – in an unprecedented move – has refused to defend the federal law in court. On top of chipping away at the existing law, while they had complete control of the federal government they failed to create a replacement plan they had promised for years. North Dakota Republicans refused to pass a state law protecting pre-existing conditions if the federal law is struck down. The public won’t need a court decision to remember those facts.