Late Thursday night, the Trump administration filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out all of Obamacare. The late night move comes during a resurgence of covid 19 cases across the country. The filing is also a reminder that health care is again on the ballot in 2020.
In summary, a health crisis is spreading across America. Over 120,000 Americans have died. Millions are out of work because of the pandemic. Many of those workers relied on their employer for health insurance. Some of them have turned to Obamacare for coverage during this uncertain economic time while people worry about their health. With all of that going on, the President and his allies are actively trying to eliminate that program. Don’t forget the support this has from NDGOP officials.
How’d we get here? In 2018, North Dakota’s Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem joined the lawsuit targeting Obamacare that originated in Texas. Stenehjem has refused to tell the public who “asked” him to join the lawsuit now before the Supreme Court. We do know North Dakota’s Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread helped Stenehjem in the decision. When pressed on it by the public in 2018, these politicians panicked and held a misleading press conference about their stance on health care policy. Governor Burgum sent his Lt. Governor Brent Sanford to stand next to Kelly Armstrong and Kevin Cramer.
At the end of 2019, the SCOTUS ruled the individual mandate was 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 until after the 2020 election is exactly what the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans had hoped for.
Protections for pre-existing conditions are on the line. These politicians support the lawsuit to eliminate them. Period. They’ll try to tell you otherwise and that they support your coverage – especially amid a pandemic – as this decision pends and coverage hangs in the balance. Don’t buy it.
Want an ND example? Recall in 2019, An amendment was offered by Democrat Rep. Rick Holman and accepted in the Insurance Departments budget late in the session. It caught many ND politicians off guard. That amendment would have put protections for preexisting conditions in state law should ACA be overturned. After some nervous chatter from the Insurance Commissioner and angry legislators on the House floor, the protections were stripped out and turned into a “study.” The study is ongoing.
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. Real reassuring as a virus spreads among us. 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.
Voters won’t need a court decision to remember those facts when it comes to November’s election. Additionally, it is almost a certainty that another Supreme Court Justice will be seated during the next administration. Expect this case and the pending decision to bring that appointment into focus and make it a driving factor for many voters.