What is old is new again.
President Donald J. Trump announced last week that he is launching a new assault on the Affordable Care Act, asking courts to invalidate every element of its provisions.
Never mind that during the past nine years, different benefits of the law have been slowly enacted and received widespread support, it seems the Trump administration is determined to erase the law more because it bears the nickname Obamacare, and he wants to erase President Barack Obama’s name and legacy from history if he can, rather than provide citizens the protections the law provides.
Lawmakers knew the bill had flaws when it was first passed, and they thought widespread acceptance of its benefits would persuade opponents to make the necessary changes to make it work better.
After all, not only have thousands of lives been saved because families have been able to afford the health care they needed, but the law has also saved thousands of families from financial ruin.
People who had pre-existing medical problems that would have barred them from obtaining coverage in the past, under the new law were now able to qualify for health insurance.
Families with young adults still searching for job security were able to keep them on parent health insurance coverage to age 26.
So many provisions of the law have become a fact of life that it would be equivalent to a national disaster for the law to be upended now. Despite more than a decade of Republicans promising to “repeal and replace,” they still have not developed ANY replacement plan.
Instead of improving on what is already working to a remarkable degree, the administration has been steadily dismantling some of the pillars of the law – like removing the mandate that all citizens must carry some form of health insurance coverage – in an effort to make it crumble financially.
Nevertheless, the law has stood strong and survived.
Then, the Trump administration cut 90 percent of the funding to publicize the annual open enrollment that lets individuals know when they have the opportunity to sign up for coverage, usually a date in October through mid-December, for benefits that take effect Jan. 1 of the following year.
Then, the Trump administration cut subsidies to middle-income families so that the cost of coverage was much higher than it should be. But because many of those families would face health crises and economic disaster without the coverage, they bit the bullet and paid the exorbitant cost.
The U.S. Justice Department under Attorney General William Barr is reversing its usual policy to take positions in court that defend U.S. law, including the Affordable Care Act. Instead, the department is now supporting total elimination of the law.
At the same time, Democrats, who now control the U.S. House, are working to keep the law intact, voting right away to fight for the law in court.
They also, according to Kaiser Health News, have submitted proposals to expand the law, extend help to pay premiums for middle-income families and reinstate cuts made by the Trump administration to reach out and help people enroll.
Republican lawmakers did not listen to constituents before the 2018 elections when, at one town hall meeting after another, voters named health insurance as their number one concern. Those lawmakers paid the price with a loss of 40 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
We know health care is a critical issue for all Americans.
Sens. Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith and Reps. Trent Kelly, Bennie Thompson, Michael Guest and Steven Palazzo should hear from you and your fellow constituents throughout the state, letting them know that their positions on the health care issue will determine whether they have earned your support.