U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Selma, voted in favor of House Resolution 271 on Wednesday, condemning the Trump Administration’s legal support for an effort by conservative states, including Alabama, to have the courts declare key parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, popularly called Obamacare, unconstitutional.
“Not only are the Trump Administration’s efforts to gut the ACA reckless and irresponsible, they are a direct assault on Americans with pre-existing conditions,” Sewell said. “I won’t stand idly by and allow this Administration to take us back to a time when health insurers outright rejected or offered severely limited coverage to the nearly one million Alabamians under 65 with pre-existing conditions. Alabamians deserve better.”
Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, opposed the resolution and announced his support for the Trump Administration’s effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.
“Socialist Democrats refuse to acknowledge Obamacare’s numerous flaws,” Brooks said. “According to a 2017 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, nationwide individual market premiums increased 105 percent – meaning Obamacare more than doubled health insurance premium costs. In dollar amounts, nationwide annual health insurance premiums rose on average $2,928 per policy. Obamacare hurt Alabama more than any other state in America. In Alabama, health insurance costs increased a staggering and obscene 223 percent. That is not a ‘first’ Alabama citizens want or can afford. Alabama’s skyrocketing health insurance costs severely undermine the ability of Alabama citizens to access healthcare and take care of their own families.”
Sewell said what the president is doing is “healthcare sabotage.”
“I was proud to join my colleagues last week in introducing legislation to reverse the administration’s health care sabotage, strengthen protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions and lower health insurance premiums by improving and expanding affordability assistance,” Sewell continued. “Instead of building additional barriers to health care coverage for those in need, the Administration – and the state of Alabama – should change course and work to increase consumer protections and continue to prevent insurance companies from discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions.”
Brooks accused former President Barack H Obama (D) of “fraud” when he told the American people that if they like their health insurance, they can keep their health insurance to convince voters to support the Affordable Care Act. Rules written by the Obama Administration essentially outlawed almost every then existing insurance plan, and severely limited the control that Americans had over what plan they could buy.
“Obamacare severely restricts Americans’ healthcare choices,” Brooks said. “President Obama’s famous claim that if you like your doctor or health care provider you can keep them was an outright lie. In a court of law, it would be called ‘fraud in the inducement.’ Between 2013-2018, the number of insurers in the individual health markets declined from 395 to 181. Heritage Foundation analysts found that in 2015, 64 insurers entered the market and nine exited. In 2017, only 10 insurers entered the market and 80 exited. There were eight states that have one single provider in 2018. Of the states that have one provider left, 36 providers exited after Obamacare was enacted.”
A coalition of states brought a federal lawsuit, Texas v. United States, arguing Obamacare is unconstitutional after repeal of the individual mandate tax that was the lynchpin of Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion that upheld Obamacare. The U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Texas ruled in favor of the states in Texas v. United States, holding that, “The court therefore finds the individual mandate, unmoored from a tax, is unconstitutional.”
When the case reached, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Trump Administration Department of Justice lawyers made the decision that the states were right, and they did not challenge the lower court’s holding that Obamacare is unconstitutional.
If successful, the lawsuit, would effectively dismantle the Affordable Care Act and take guaranteed health care coverage away from more than 130 million Americans, including nearly one million Alabamians under 65 with pre-existing conditions.
All the existing plans would understandably fail when the healthy, the fit, and those just lucky enough tohave not to have a preexisting condition would, for cost reasons, abandon the plan for new health insurance plans that reward them for their good health. That would leave the fat, the chronically ill, the diabetic, smokers, cancer patients, etc. to pay for much higher coverage in a high risk pool, if they can get it at all. Republicans insist that won’t happen, but there is no replacement plan that has passed the Congress in place for when the Court overturns Obamacare or for when insurers leave the market, which is an increasing problem in many states.
H.Res. 271 passed the House 240-186.
The victory is hollow, though, as the bill likely will never be voted on in the Republican-controlled Senate, and if it somehow was passed, it would almost certainly be vetoed by the president. Democrats don’t presently have the votes to override a veto.
The fate of Obamacare is likely back in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court, which shocked many court observers when it narrowly voted in favor of the massive healthcare insurance industry overhaul in a previous review.
Whatever happens at the Supreme Court, the winner the winner of the next presidential election will likely write their own healthcare insurance overhaul.
Democratic support for keeping Obamacare has plummeted, with many Democratic presidential candidates favoring switching to a single payor system.
“Socialist Democrats won’t stop until healthcare in America is entirely government-run — eviscerating Americans’ liberty and freedom to choose their health insurance plan or doctor,” Brooks said. “Nearly half of House Socialist Democrats have cosponsored Medicare-for-All, legislation that is estimated to cost $32 trillion over 10 years. My position on Obamacare has not changed. I believe the law ought to be repealed in toto. That way, America can return to the pre-Obamacare best healthcare system in the world at a much lower cost to consumers. What’s more, I’ll fight Socialist Democrat attempts to implement government-run healthcare in America — whether those attempts be piecemeal, like ObamaCare, or all at once.”
Sewell is a member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health.