Trump Administration Now Turning To The Courts To Kill Off Healthcare For Many Millions

Death of the ACA would impact virtually the entire country – both people with health insurance and people without it.

By Mark Gruenberg
People’s World (5/6/19)

NEW ORLEANS —The GOP couldn’t kill the entire Affordable Care Act when they controlled Congress, though they tried at least 62 times. They can’t completely kill it by dismantling it administratively piece by piece. So now the Trump administration wants the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, one of the most conservative courts in the country, to kill the ACA for them.

In a brief filed before the judges on April 30, Trump’s Justice Department argued the entire law is unconstitutional because Congress, in Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut, repealed the $700-per-person yearly tax imposed on people who don’t have health insurance.

The ACA is too interwoven with the tax, Trump’s Justice Department argued. Trump’s DOJ is now headed by Attorney General William Barr, who as a private attorney tried to kill the ACA, too. When the tax was yanked, the whole law must constitutionally fall, the Justice Department, speaking for Trump and the GOP, contends.

And that’s different from the position DOJ took just over six months ago when GOP-named U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in rural red state Texas ruled the whole law constitutionally out of bounds for the same tax reason. But O’Connor kept it in place, pending appeals to higher courts.

Death of the ACA would impact virtually the entire country – both people with health insurance and people without it.

Ironically, the latest Trump threat to the ACA came the same day the Democratic-run House Rules Committee held the first-ever congressional hearing on single-payer government-run Medicare For All. 

The ACA forces insurers to cover 52 million people with “pre-existing conditions.” It bans denial of coverage due to pregnancy. It expanded Medicaid, at least in “blue states” to millions more, and it cut the number of uninsured nationwide in half since it passed in 2009-10. It also lets young people stay on their parents’ policies until age 26.

All that protection and more would be gone if the ACA goes, as Trump and the GOP want. And they deliberately don’t have anything to replace it, throwing workers, families, individuals, unions, businesses – indeed, the entire nation — back onto the mercies, or lack of them, of health insurers.

The ACA also has GOP ancestry. The right-wing Heritage Foundation dreamed up the tax. And then-Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., working with the Democratic state legislature, enacted virtually the exact same law.

At the core of the opposition

That didn’t stop GOP hate. As soon as President Obama took office and started pushing the ACA, Republicans fell into unquestioning line against it.

Steelworkers President Leo Gerard told his union’s legislative conference several years ago there’s only one reason for such hate of Obama, the ACA and everything else the president championed: Obama is black. Delegates cheered.

The ACA passed on completely party-line votes, followed by those 62+ unsuccessful GOP repeal attempts in subsequent years and Trump’s scheme to administratively dismantle it, piece by piece.

But that’s not good enough for Trump, Barr or the 20-plus GOP red states that started the suit in the Texas court to overturn it. Led by deep-red Texas, those states want the judges in New Orleans to dump the ACA immediately and for good.

“On the merits, the district court correctly ruled that, in the absence of any revenue-raising provision, the individual mandate can no longer properly be upheld as a tax and is therefore unconstitutional,” Trump’s Justice Department now says.

“Much of the ACA, especially its guaranteed coverage of certain procedures and its community-rating provisions,” depended on the mandate.

“The rest of the ACA involves numerous other interdependent provisions likewise designed to work together to expand health-insurance coverage and to shift healthcare costs. The district court thus properly concluded the ACA is invalid in its entirety.”

Blue states, led by California, plus the Democratic-run U.S. House, are demanding the New Orleans appellate court judges uphold the ACA and toss the Texas judge’s ruling. …

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(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2016. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to )


‘We Will Fight This’: Rights Advocates Warn Georgia’s Six-Week Abortion Ban Poses National Threat

Georgia’s new law “is so extreme that it criminalizes doctors who provide life-saving care, and it even allows the state to investigate women for having miscarriages.”

By Jessica Corbett
Common Dreams (5/7/19)

Reproductive rights advocates vowed to fight in court against Georgia’s new six-week abortion ban—signed into law Tuesday by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp—while warning that the measure’s greater purpose is to challenge the constitutionally protected right to abortion on a national scale.

“What we need to understand is that this is actually something that’s happening in state after state with a very specific purpose of overturning Roe v. Wade,” Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan said in a video Planned Parenthood Action posted to Twitter.

The so-called LIFE (Living Infants Fairness and Equality) Act is set to take effect in January of 2020 if it is not blocked by the courts before then. The law (pdf) will outlaw abortion in Georgia—which is notorious for its high maternal death rate—after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is around six weeks, before many women even know they are pregnant.

And, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday, it is just the latest in a series of similar state laws—in places dominated by Republican legislators—that aim to force the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its landmark Roe ruling:

“Governors in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Ohio all have signed similar “heartbeat bills.” A federal judge has already issued a preliminary injunction against the Kentucky law, and similar laws enacted in recent years in Iowa and North Dakota have also been struck down in the courts.”

As the Georgia bill moved through the legislature earlier this year, it sparked a broader debate—and Jordan, the state senator, gained national notoriety for her viral speech against it.

“It is disappointing, but not surprising, that Gov. Brian Kemp signed an unconstitutional law that disregards the rights of every Georgia woman, including every Georgia mother,” Jordan said in a statement Tuesday. “But make no mistake, we have only just begun to fight.”

Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates, the ACLU, and the Center for Reproductive Rights were among the groups that sent Kemp a clear message on Tuesday: “We’ll see you in court.”

Georgia’s new law “is so extreme that it criminalizes doctors who provide life-saving care, and it even allows the state to investigate women for having miscarriages,” said Dr. Leana Wen, Planned Parenthood’s CEO and president.

“We will fight this bill,” she promised. “This is about patients’ lives.”

“Today’s women can only thrive in a state that protects their most basic rights—the right to choose when and whether to start or expand a family. Georgia can’t afford to go backwards on women’s health and rights,” Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia, said in a statement. “We will act to block this assault on women’s health, rights, and self-determination.”

While the new ban in Georgia has garnered widespread opposition—especially given its ultimate intentions and potential consequences nationally—the legislation has also spurred the state-level #ReclaimGeorgia campaign, launched Tuesday by local reproductive rights advocates.

Laura Simmons of NARAL Pro-Choice Georgia told the Journal-Constitution that the campaign’s purpose is to “educate voters and put lawmakers on notice that advocates for reproductive freedom will not let legislators off the hook for turning their backs on women and families by voting to criminalize abortion and punish women.”

“We warned you: if you choose to vote against women’s rights, we’ll be voting against you in the next election,” added Staci Fox of Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates. “That begins now.”

Democrat Stacey Abrams narrowly lost the gubernatorial race to Kemp last year in an election rife with allegations—including from Abrams—that the state’s Republican leadership engaged in voter suppression.

“Bad policies like the forced pregnancy bill are a direct result of voter suppression,” Abrams tweeted Tuesday. “If leaders can silence Georgians’ voices at the ballot box, they can ignore Georgians’ voices when in office. We will fight back in court and at the voting booth.”

EMILY’s List is a national group that works to get Democratic pro-choice female candidates elected to political office. Noting that the Georgia measure is designed to challenge Roe, the group said on Twitter, “This is a perfect example of why we need to elect more pro-choice Democratic women to protect our healthcare.”

(This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.)

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