Legislation John McCain votes no with a thumbs down on "skinny repeal" of the Affordable Care Act in July, 2017

Published on July 26th, 2019 | by Guest Contributor


Two Years After Repeal Attempts, ACA Sabotage Reruns Continue

By Amanda Wurst

For those of us who bing reruns of The West Wing or stop flipping through channels every time we see The American President on TV, we know what it takes to make compelling political theatre.

While a “walk and talk” into the press briefing room will always be one of my personal fictional favorites, it’s rare we get to see this kind of theater play out on C-SPAN instead of basic cable.

However, two years ago, a U.S. Senator, who was battling brain cancer, flew into Washington for the sole purpose of casting the decisive vote to uphold or unravel one of his political rival’s signature legislative accomplishments.

As he walked to the floor, no one knew what would happen. The powerful majority leader paced back-and-forth, as small groups conferenced around the swing-vote senator.

Then, just after midnight, the senator extended his thumb into the air and pointed it downwards. Gasps went through the chamber and tweets were flying fast and furious.

Yes, it’s been two years since Senator John McCain joined two other Republicans to buck their party and voted against “skinny” repeal.

The repercussions of Sen. McCain’s famous thumbs-down no vote cannot be overstated; the vote saved protections for 130 million Americans – including 4.8 million Ohioans– with pre-existing conditions, maintained the ban on lifetime caps, protected Medicaid expansion, and safeguarded the coverage of thousands of Americans who gained health insurance through the ACA.

Fast forward to the present day and attacks on these essential protections and the entire Affordable Care Act continue, leaving millions still at risk of losing access to the health care they depend on. After Republicans failed to repeal the ACA in Congress, the Trump Administration took to the courts to do what they could not accomplish even with majorities in both chambers of Congress: repeal the ACA.

Some background: in February 2018, a coalition of Republican state officials sued the Department of Health and Human Services in an attempt to overturn the Affordable Care Act on the grounds that it was unconstitutional after Republicans eliminated the individual mandate in their 2018 tax bill. Traditionally, the Department of Justice defends federal law in court, yet, in perhaps its most egregious attack on the ACA yet, the Trump Administration announced that the Department of Justice would side with the Republican state officials and refuse to defend the ACA.

Backed by the Trump Administration, Republican lawyers argued that the entirety of the Affordable Care Act should be repealed, and millions of Americans should be stripped of their health coverage.

In December 2018, a federal judge in the Northern District of Texas ruled in favor of the Republican Attorneys General and declared the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. This decision was promptly appealed, and oral arguments in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals began July 9. If the original ruling stands, provisions allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, bans on annual and lifetime limits, bans on insurance discrimination against women and older Americans, limits on out-of-pocket costs, small business tax credits, and protections for people with pre-existing conditions will be gone.

If the lawsuit is successful and the ACA is overturned, millions of Ohioans would lose coverage, all while throwing the American health care system into chaos.

While President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have been aggressive in their partisan war on health care, the Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land, and millions of Americans have access to quality, affordable health care because of it.

Two years ago we celebrated the survival of the ACA as legislative vehicles failed to repeal it. However, two years later, we are still fighting.

We must continue to protect our care and hold our elected officials accountable every year and in every election. We know what’s at stake and we know the attacks on our health care will continue. Now, it just looks a lot more like Law and Order rather than The West Wing.

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