Republicans who long campaigned on repealing and replacing Obamacare are pleading for President Donald Trump to reconsider his new effort to try and kill the law.
The Justice Department said in a court filing that it now backs the full elimination of the Affordable Care Act after it previously sought to nullify the part of the law that requires insurance companies to cover people with preexisting conditions and provide benefits that the law deemed “essential.”
The New York Times reported that Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General Bill Bar, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and White House counsel Pat Cipollone all tried to talk Trump out of it but the president sided with chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who argued that it would satisfy a campaign promise.
Republicans quickly began to grumble about the move after healthcare contributed to the Democratic landslide in the House in the 2018 midterm elections. Bloomberg's Sahil Kapur noted that healthcare was the top issue for 2018 voters and those who cared most about healthcare backed Democrats over Republicans by more than 50 percent.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy privately told Trump that he disagrees with Trump’s decision and told him over the phone that it “made no sense,” Axios reported.
DOJ fights to kick tens of millions off of healthcare:
The Justice Department changed its position in the lawsuit Monday to back Republican state attorneys general who sued to have the Affordable Care Act ruled invalid. The move came after a district judge agreed with the Republicans and the ruling was appealed.
“DOJ had been arguing that the courts should toss the mandate and protections for people with pre-existing conditions, while letting the rest of the law stand. But it now says it agrees with the lower court’s ruling striking down the entire ACA,” Axios reported. “If DOJ gets its way, the ACA’s insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansion would vanish, stripping health care coverage from more than 20 million people. And the loss of unrelated ACA provisions would reverberate throughout the health care system.”
Republicans worried Trump’s move will doom them in 2020:
Republicans are concerned that a win for Trump in the court battle would leave tens of millions without insurance and the party without many of its Congressional seats. According to a Washington Post analysis, 42 percent of midterm voters said in exit polls that health care was the most or second most important issue to them. Of those voters, 77% backed Democrats while 22% backed Republicans.
The Times reported that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s leadership team was “incensed” at Trump’s move to bring healthcare to the forefront again.
Republican Maine Sen. Susan Collins argued that Trump should go through Congress if he wants to change the healthcare laws.
“I’m appalled. I think the Justice Department has a duty to defend the duly enacted laws,” she told Axios. “I’m going to be writing to the attorney general to express my views on this. I was surprised and disappointed. If the president disagrees with a law, then he should ask Congress to repeal or change that law. He should not try to get rid of it through the courts."