The Trump administration has confirmed that the Republican approach to health care has two components — stay healthy, die quickly.
Those will be your only choices if several states succeed in yet another attempt to whittle away at the Affordable Care Act, most notably the provision that people with pre-existing medical conditions would not be penalized, would not be denied insurance or faced with unaffordable premiums.
The administration has decided not to defend existing law against the challenge. While that is unusual, it is understandable because these states are doing the administration a favor, undermining parts of Obamacare to do bit by bit what President Trump and Republicans in Congress could not do in several tries — eliminate protection altogether.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that his department had no interest in defending the parts of the law that required insurers to cover pre-existing conditions or the parts that prevented insurers from charging more to people based on gender and age.
This cruel crusade brought critical and bipartisan condemnation from local officials and politicians.
The two major party candidates in the 18th Congressional District agreed.
“We can’t go back to the times when pregnant women, folks with a disability and people with cancer were denied the care they needed,” Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-Cold Spring, said. “These protections are some of the most popular and commonsense parts of the ACA – this administration is making a big mistake – and I’ll fight to make sure these critical protections aren’t scrapped.”
His opponent, Republican Orange County Legislator James O’Donnell, said “You can’t pull the rug out from underneath people with pre-existing conditions.” They should continue being guaranteed coverage at affordable rates.
Most Democrats seeking the seat in the 19th Congressional District were similarly inclined but it is very hard to characterize the position being held by the man they hope to replace, John Faso, R-Kinderhook.
Faso voted for the House bill that would give states the power to end protection for those with pre-existing conditions among other discriminatory measures. That vote brought a question from his neighbor, Maloney:
“On what planet is it a good idea to allow insurance companies to kick folks with pre-existing conditions off their plans? Who wins when veterans, cancer patients, children with disabilities, pregnant mothers and victims of sexual assault have to pay thousands of dollars more to get worse health care plans that don’t actually cover anything?”
Now, Faso is saying that those with pre-existing conditions should not be denied coverage but he also felt compelled to add the warning that the ACA has “failed to deliver on its promise to reduce costs.”
He called on Congress to “work in a bipartisan manner to develop a solution that covers pre-existing conditions and makes health care more affordable and accessible for every American.” And he noted that the court case sparking all this discussion most likely will not be settled until 2019, well after the next congressional elections.
Those in the 19th District who want someone to fight for these protections all the time for all of the people should keep this opportunity in mind.