The impending federal appeals court ruling in the case challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act could present a conundrum to the Trump administration: A legal victory upholding a lower court’s decision to invalidate the law could quickly turn into a political defeat as a result of the chaos it creates in the health-care system.
Given that prospect — and with no clear plan for preserving the health benefits of millions of Americans if the court rules in its favor — the Trump administration reportedly plans to ask for a stay of the ruling if the appeals court strikes down all or part of Obamacare. “A senior administration official said the White House would also stress that ‘nothing is going to change overnight’ to stem expected panic that millions of Americans could lose their health insurance if the court invalidates all or part of the law,” the Post’s Paige Winfield Cunningham and Yasmeen Abutaleb report.
The administration may also seek to delay a potential Supreme Court review of the case until after the 2020 presidential election.
‘Principles,’ but no plan: “Senior administration officials say they have some ideas for replacing parts of the 2010 health-care law, ‘principles’ crafted in part by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid administrator Seema Verma,” Winfield Cunningham and Abutaleb report. “However, replacing key benefits — such as guaranteed coverage for people with preexisting conditions — would require the cooperation of Democratic congressional leaders, who have vowed to defend the law and have no interest in a piecemeal replacement plan likely to fall far short of preserving health coverage for about 20 million Americans.”
Replacement plan politics: This isn’t a fight congressional Republicans want, and the Trump administration is in a bind of its own making. Any comprehensive plan it puts out is bound to get criticized mercilessly, especially if, like past Republican proposals, it would result in millions of Americans losing coverage. But the administration’s lack of a clear plan will also open Trump up to renewed attacks, and ongoing uncertainty surrounding the health law, particularly its popular protections for those with preexisting conditions, probably won’t play well during election season either.
The bottom line: Sooner or later, the ACA is likely to end up before the Supreme Court again. The fate of Obamacare won’t be clear until after the justices rule — and voters have their say in 2020.