A blow to Obamacare could deal the GOP a political hit too
Here we go again. While the U.S. House was voting for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans ruled against Obamacare's individual mandate requirement that nearly everyone must have health insurance or pay a penalty.
Yes, that raises the possibility once again that the entire Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, could be struck down.
What? Did you perhaps believe the president when he said back in October 2017 that "Obamacare is finished"?
"It's dead. It's gone," Donald Trump told reporters before a cabinet meeting. "You shouldn't even mention it. It's gone. There is no such thing as Obamacare anymore."
Yes, there is -- and it is more popular now than it was when candidate Trump was running against it.
In a lawsuit backed by Republicans and Trump, the appeals court ruled the individual mandate to be unconstitutional but declined to rule on the rest of the ACA. Instead the court sent it back to a lower court. That means it probably won't be settled before next year's election, which hands Democrats an issue that has played quite favorably for them recently.
Republicans lost a wave of House races and governor's mansions in last year's midterms partly because of a backlash against Republican efforts to gut Obamacare. Nancy Pelosi, now speaker of the House, urged her party's candidates to emphasize the law's most popular feature: health insurance coverage for preexisting conditions, those that started before a person's health benefits went into effect.
Sure enough, health care coverage became the primary issue for 2018 voters, according to exit polls published by CNN, and those who selected it preferred Democratic candidates by 75% to 23%.
The political landscape has changed since ACA approval fell to an all-time low of 37% in Gallup's trend line as Republicans scored big gains in the November 2014 midterms.
After numerous Republican-backed legal and legislative assaults, Obamacare lives on with more than 8.4 million consumers enrolled in 2019, according to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is still counting enrollees for the 2020 period.