Pre-Existing Conditions

 

This morning, U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) and his Republican opponent, John James, were interviewed online by Nolan Finley of the Detroit News and Stephen Henderson of DPTV & WDET. Here's the verbaitm transcripts of each of their healthcare/ACA Q&A sections, Peters first:

HENDERSON: "One of the things which has been made really manifest during the COVID-19 pandemic is the weakness of our healthcare system. We're now coming up on about a decade of life under the Affordable Care Act, which of course expanded access to insurance and made some other changes, but there are still obviously a lot of inefficincies...there are a lot of insufficiencies.

Give us an idea of what you would support in terms of changes to the healthcare system, changes to the Affordable Care Act, to get more people covered at lower costs and make the system work better."

Republican Senator Cory Gardner is up for re-election this fall, and he's in major trouble. Various polling over the summer has him trailing his Democratic opponent, former CO Governor John Hickenlooper, by around 6 points on average.

Gardner is underwater for many reasons, many of which have to do with his repeated attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act...most recently by voting for the "Skinny Repeal" bill the summer of 2017 which was nipped in the bud by a single vote thanks to John McCain's famous "thumbs down" vote.

About three weeks ago I noted that the Nevada state Senate had passed a bill which locks in many of the ACA's patient protections at the state level, just in case the idiotic #TexasFoldEm lawsuit prevails and the ACA is repealed after all.

Yesterday, the Nevada state House followed through as well:

Nevada stands to become the fifth state to fully incorporate the federal Affordable Care Act’s protections for patients with pre-existing conditions into state law after unanimous passage of a bill Tuesday in the state Senate.

"Fully incorporate" isn't quite accurate; as I noted with the Senate version, it looks like the three most important ones are covered (Guaranteed Issue, Community Rating and the ACA's 10 Essential Health Benefits), along with a pre-ACA law letting young adults stay on their parents plan until age 24 (but only if they're unmarried and enrolled in school).

 

I've included the transcript below, but words can't accurately describe the tone of voice or the body language of Grassley in the actual video, so I'll just urge everyone to watch it.

WOMAN: "What is your plan to keep millions of Americans like myself covered? Those of us with pre-existing conditions, people who are on their parents insurance, and again, people like myself who need life-guaranteeing medication? We could lose our insurance and I'd probably be dead in 2 months."

GRASSLEY: "Well, there's a...there's a lot of, uh...and she's asking only because the courts may declare [the ACA] unconstitutional. Now, I don't think that the courts are going to declare it unconstitutional..."

WOMAN: "You voted seven times to repeal it."

GRASSLEY: (pause) "Yes."

WOMAN: "Why? What are you going to do for people on the ACA?"

From last August:

The #TexasFoldEm case uses the World's Flimsiest Excuse to try and eliminate the Affordable Care Act's critical health insurance coverage protections for the 130 million Americans who have pre-existing conditions.

In response, Republican Senators Tillis, Alexander, Grassley, Ernst, Murkowski, Cassidy, Wicker, Graham, Heller and Barrasso have introduced a new bill which they claim would ensure pre-existing coverage protections. Unfortunately, it...doesn't.

I've been out and about all day and will also be unable to update the blog all day Saturday, so I'll keep this one short. Besides, several others, including Jeffrey Young of the Huffington Post have already written up good overviews of this garbage:

There's so many Republican candidates running around trying to gaslight America into completely ignoring their relentless, repeated attempts to strip away protections for people with pre-existing conditions that I've alread stopped bothering to try to keep up with them (I think my Rogues Gallery post stops at around 24 or so at the moment).

Here in Michigan, while I'm pretty sure all nine of our Republican members of Congress who voted for the AHCA last year are lying through their teeth about how they suddenly support "protecting coverage of pre-existing conditions", the one which seems to be getting the most attention is Mike Bishop (MI-08). Part of this is no doubt because Bishop is embroiled in one of the two closest races in the state (the other is MI-11, where Dave Trott also voted for the AHCA, but he's retiring so it's an open seat).

(image via Arkham City Wiki...artist unknown)

(note: this is a work in progress...check back soon for more additions.)

As I noted yesterday, as the 2018 midterm election rapidly approaches, there's been a sudden and complete change in strategy when it comes to healthcare policy campaiging by practically every Republican running for office this year. After nearly a decade of doing everything in their power to attack, undermine, sabotage, hack away at, trash and especially repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (that's the full title of the law, after all), GOP candidates have suddenly decided that "protecting coverage of pre-existing conditions" is a swell idea after all.

 

A few days ago, Jonathan Cohn of the Huffington Post wrote about a new phenomenon sweeping the nation: Republican candidates, all of whom have repeatedly either voted to repeal the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act or who have repeatedly called for it to be repealed, are suddenly falling all over themselves to try and claim that they support patient protections for those with pre-existing conditions...usually by invoking family members who suffer from various ailments.

Cohn's examples include GOP Congressman Mike Bishop (MI-08), who claims his wife has rheumatoid arthritis; Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48), who says his daughter survived childhood leukemia; John Faso (NY-19) and Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), both of whose wives survived cancer; and Josh Hawley (MO-AG, running for MO-Sen), whose son has a rare chronic disease.

 

via Nicholas Bagley of The Incidental Economist:

Maryland files suit to protect health reform from Texas.

... the Maryland attorney general today filed a separate lawsuit in a Maryland district court. Among other things, he’s seeking an injunction requiring the continued enforcement of the law. Depending on how quickly the Maryland case moves, it’s possible we could see dueling injunctions—one ordering the Trump administration to stop enforcing the law, the other ordering it to keep enforcing.

That’s an unholy mess just waiting to happen. Now, it may not come to that. My best guess is that the Texas lawsuit will fizzle: any injunction will likely be stayed pending appeal, either by the Fifth Circuit or the Supreme Court, and the case is going nowhere on the merits. The Maryland lawsuit will likely prove unnecessary.

I don't have much to add to this other than to note how much this case underscores just how much power and importance state attorneys general have.

Reed O'Conner, the hard-right wing judge presiding over the idiotic #TexasFoldEm lawsuit which could potentially wipe out the Affordable Care Act as soon as January 1st, has been radio silent for the past week since he heard oral arguments over the case from the dueling bands of state Attorneys General.

However, if Tim Jost's description of how that hearing went is anything to go by, it's looking pretty ominous:

To enter the Fort Worth Courtroom of Judge Reed O’Connor on September 5, 2018, was to leave the real world.  The Affordable Care Act was once again on trial.  At stake was access to health care for the 20 million Americans who have gained coverage through the ACA, affordable coverage for 133 million Americans with preexisting conditions, and preventive services coverage for 44 million Medicare beneficiaries.

 

Welp. This doesn't look good. As I noted earlier this afternoon, the insane #TexasFoldEm lawsuit held their oral arguments today, and as expected, the Republican-appointed judge in the case, Reed O'Connor, isn't exactly a fan of the ACA. Paul Demko lays out the bottom line in Politico:

U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor, a George W. Bush appointee, vigorously questioned attorneys during the three-hour hearing but gave no indication when he would rule.

Lawyers for the Trump administration partially agreed with the red states' argument, concluding that the removal of Obamacare's individual mandate requires striking down the law's insurance provisions, including protections for people with preexisting medical conditions.

But the administration disagreed on the need for immediate action, arguing that any remedies should not be applied until next year.

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) recently introduced a new bill which, while it has zero chance of actually passing (or even being voted on) neatly tackles not one but two different types of Republican sabotage of the Affordable Care Act: The expansion of short-term plans being pushed hard by Donald Trump and the elimination of pre-existing condition protections being pushed hard by 20 GOP Attorneys General in the idiotic #TexasFoldEm case. Per Dylan Scott in Vox last week:

Senate Democrats are preparing a long-shot procedural maneuver to reverse new Trump administration regulations that they say would sabotage the Affordable Care Act by expanding “junk” insurance that isn’t obligated to cover preexisting conditions.

via Amy Lotven of Inside Health Politics...

Ethics Prof Says TX Judge's Attendance At Federalist Society Event Doesn't Cross Line
August 28, 2018 

The judge overseeing the high-profile case over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, which could potentially land at the Supreme Court, is slated to attend a Federalist Society event featuring Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas -- and several members of the federal circuit court of appeals that would review the case before it landed at the high court. A key ethic professor suggests the Texas' judge's appearance at the event does not cross any lines.

Judge Reed O'Connor is also slated to monitor a panel entitled “Trump, Sessions and the States,” during the Texas Chapter meeting on Sept. 8, just days after the Sept. 5 arguments in the federal Texas court are scheduled.

Inside Health Policy asked ethics experts whether O'Connor's appearance pushed the envelope on judicial ethics, and those that responded generally suggested his appearance at the event is not an issue.

 

via Elana Schor of Politico, a week or so ago:

Kavanaugh confirmation hearings set for Sept. 4

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's Senate confirmation hearings will start on Sept. 4 and last between three and four days, Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced on Friday.

That scheduling tees up the GOP to meet its goal of getting President Donald Trump's pick seated on the high court by the time its term begins in early October, barring unforeseen obstacles or a breakthrough by Democrats who are pushing to derail Kavanaugh's confirmation.

The Supreme Court battle so far has focused on documents related to Kavanaugh's five years in the George W. Bush White House. Democrats have excoriated the GOP for declining to seek records from the nominee's time as Bush's staff secretary and condemned the Republican decision to rely on a Bush-driven review process for the early round of vetting, while the majority party hails the vast scope of documents that are set for release.

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