As the deadly pandemic continues to take its toll, the Affordable Care Act is providing an important lifeline to millions of Americans. The future of the health care reform law, however, remains very much in doubt.
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 the coronavirus crisis has not deterred its GOP proponents. In fact, Donald Trump said as recently as late March that the pandemic has not affected his support for the lawsuit.
It was against this backdrop that Attorney General Bill Barr reportedly met with top Team Trump officials on Monday, 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.
The president has apparently decided to ignore Barr's advice. Politico reported yesterday:
President Donald Trump on Wednesday said his administration will urge the Supreme Court to overturn Obamacare, maintaining its all-out legal assault on the health care law amid a pandemic that will drive millions of more Americans to depend on its coverage.
When Barr made his case on Monday, he reportedly told top White House officials that they had the option of asking the justices to rule against elements of the ACA, while leaving key benefits to families in place. Trump, however, appears determined to do catastrophic damage to his own country's health care system.
"What we want to do is terminate [the ACA] and give great health care," the president said. "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.)
In other words, as COVID-19 kills tens 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 deadline for the administration to change its position was yesterday. If the president's comments accurately reflected the White House's position, Barr's plea to Team Trump failed.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the fall. Watch this space.