The nation's public-health landscape is increasingly ugly. A deadly pandemic's infection rates are climbing. and a growing number of Americans are losing their jobs and the health insurance tied to their employment. As the coronavirus crisis takes its toll, the Affordable Care Act is providing an important lifeline to millions of American families.
In fact, just yesterday, federal officials announced that nearly half a million people sought ACA coverage, just in April and May.
It was just a few hours later that the Trump administration made a related announcement about its plans for the future of the United States' health care system.
The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to wipe out Obamacare, arguing that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and that the rest of the law must be struck down with it. The late-night brief, filed Thursday in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, carries major implications for the presidential election. If the justices agree, it would cost an estimated 20 million Americans their insurance coverage and nullify protections for pre-existing conditions.
The NBC News report added that the Trump administration's brief specifically includes "a section pointedly arguing that the Affordable Care Act's pre-existing condition rules must be overturned as well."
In other words, even as Donald Trump travels the country, insisting that he and his team are committed to protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions, he's simultaneously asking the Supreme Court to strip protections from Americans with pre-existing conditions.
For those who may need a refresher, a Republican lawsuit is pending at the U.S. Supreme Court, and with the White House's blessing, the litigants are asking the justices to destroy "Obamacare" in its entirety. In defiance of common sense and basic human decency, the fact that the case is unfolding during a public-health crisis has not deterred its GOP proponents -- including the one in the Oval Office.
At face value, the circumstances appear insane: as a deadly pandemic takes its toll, the sitting American president, in an election year, is pushing the Supreme Court to tear down his own country's health care system, in the hopes of taking coverage and benefits from tens of millions of people.
In fact, as recently as early May, Attorney General Bill Barr reportedly met with top Team Trump officials, arguing that the administration was making a mistake asking the high court to uproot the entire American health care system during a public-health crisis. The Republican lawyer said there was still time to amend the White House's position before filing a brief with the high court.
It was, however, the president himself who reportedly decided to ignore Barr's advice and pursue the destruction of the existing ACA-based system.
"What we want to do is terminate [the ACA] and give great health care," Trump said last month. "And we'll have great health care." (We've been waiting for five years to see Trump's plan for "great health care." It still does not exist.)
What we're left with is a baffling dynamic: as COVID-19 kills hundreds of thousands of Americans, Donald Trump believes the smartest course of action is to ask Supreme Court conservatives to strip tens of millions of families of their health security -- without the existence of a suitable replacement.
The justices have not scheduled a date for oral arguments, but they're likely to be held in the fall, right around the time voters get ready to choose their preferred presidential candidate.