Obamacare decision could be watershed moment

Justices on the Supreme Court dismissed a Republican-led challenge to the Affordable Care Act. Hear their reasons why.

Posted: Jun 18, 2021 3:00 PM
Updated: Jun 18, 2021 3:00 PM

After the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, a 27-year-old man stopped me on the street in Chicago and doffed his baseball cap to reveal his hairless head.

"I didn't feel well for a while but didn't have insurance, so I didn't go to the doctor," he told me. "I got coverage through Obamacare and finally went. Turns out, I had non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, but they caught it in time. I feel like that law saved my life."

Having grappled myself with an unnavigable health care insurance system as the young father of a child with a chronic illness, I have been overcome thinking about this young man and others who have escaped my nightmare as a result of the ACA.

So, on Thursday, I breathed a sigh of relief when the US Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by Republican-led states and backed by the former Trump administration asking the court to invalidate the ACA. Even on procedural grounds, the 7-2 majority included two Trump appointees to the high court, Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, which made it all the more impactful.

After all, destroying the law became an obsession for former President Donald Trump and the right -- principally, I suspect, because "Obamacare," as the ACA became known, was considered a signature accomplishment of his predecessor and my old boss, former President Barack Obama.

From the beginning, opponents of the ACA peddled false narratives about "death panels" and socialized medicine to try and stop it. Trump branded it a "total disaster," pressuring Congress to dismantle it without offering any plausible substitute.

Yet the law not only has survived serial court challenges and a relentless disinformation campaign, but a full legislative assault from Trump and the Republicans in Congress and numerous administrative decisions aimed at weakening it.

As Obama predicted when it passed, the ACA has become more popular over time, despite the relentless hammering of Trump and right-wing media.

Why? Because it has made Americans more secure.

Today, more than 20 million Americans who would not have had coverage now are insured thanks to the ACA.

More than that, all Americans with a pre-existing condition -- like my daughter Lauren, who suffers from epilepsy -- no longer can be denied coverage by insurance companies.

All Americans under 26 are eligible to be covered by their parent's insurance.

Americans who are seriously ill and require extensive treatments no longer face insurance coverage caps.

Women and older Americans no longer suffer the grotesque cost disparities that existed before the ACA.

Under Obamacare, treatment for mental illness and substance abuse must be covered.

And the list of its insurance reforms goes on.

To be sure, the ACA is not perfect and was damaged by four years of willful subversion by Trump, whose administration's actions and inaction led to higher deductibles and out-of-pocket costs for policies sold in ACA markets. And millions of Americans live in 12 states that have yet to, or have refused to, expand Medicaid under the ACA, depriving their eligible constituents of coverage.

But I've also met countless Americans, like the young man in Chicago, in the years since the ACA passed who have approached me with tears of their own, sharing stories about what it has meant to them and their families.

A woman and her husband chased me down in a parking lot after a speech I made to, of all things, an insurance industry convention out West. She had coverage but also a serious cancer, from which she, too, was recovering.

"The ACA came just in time. We would have hit our lifetime cap for coverage," she told me, her husband beaming at her side. "We just wanted to say thanks."

A young father in Peoria, about the same age I was when Lauren began having seizures, told me his 5-year-old son, who was battling a complex medical condition, had coverage due to the ACA. "You can't imagine our relief," he told me.

For the life of me, I don't understand why anyone would want to take that security and peace of mind away from these Americans or any others.

With majority support in the country for the ACA, and a majority of this conservative Supreme Court handing Obamacare opponents yet another defeat, perhaps we will look back at Thursday's ruling as a watershed moment in this decade-long battle.

It's a lot to hope for in these fractious times, but maybe, just maybe, the politicians who would drag us back will finally drop their swords and acknowledge that the Affordable Care Act is here to stay.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 479326

Reported Deaths: 9353
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32779484
Hinds30924582
DeSoto30319353
Jackson23542341
Rankin21235366
Lee14803219
Madison14120271
Jones13327223
Forrest13078236
Lauderdale11501303
Lowndes10377176
Lamar10163130
Pearl River9008217
Lafayette8193137
Hancock7404111
Oktibbeha6909122
Washington6900150
Monroe6459159
Neshoba6441201
Warren6387163
Pontotoc623093
Panola6203125
Bolivar6072144
Marshall6068121
Union571386
Pike5574135
Alcorn533289
Lincoln5283131
George466072
Scott454796
Leflore4444140
Prentiss443377
Tippah442180
Itawamba441599
Adams4376116
Tate4327101
Simpson4313112
Wayne430766
Copiah429587
Yazoo419686
Covington413292
Sunflower4123104
Marion4073104
Leake395486
Coahoma391098
Newton367274
Grenada3543104
Stone350359
Tishomingo333288
Attala324286
Jasper313162
Winston303091
Clay294173
Chickasaw286265
Clarke279890
Calhoun263940
Holmes261387
Smith248048
Yalobusha219647
Tallahatchie217550
Walthall209958
Greene206845
Lawrence205732
Perry198553
Amite197651
Webster195042
Noxubee177739
Montgomery171654
Jefferson Davis167442
Carroll161437
Tunica150834
Benton141533
Kemper138039
Claiborne126134
Choctaw126026
Humphreys125937
Franklin116328
Quitman103426
Wilkinson101536
Jefferson87333
Sharkey62320
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 778549

Reported Deaths: 13665
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1105871747
Mobile704651206
Madison49152610
Baldwin35946479
Shelby35796302
Tuscaloosa33410532
Montgomery32906672
Lee22231216
Calhoun20791397
Morgan19605326
Etowah18837449
Marshall17465272
Houston16452368
St. Clair15233293
Limestone14376182
Cullman14348246
Elmore14241256
Lauderdale13298278
Talladega12699230
DeKalb12036233
Walker10430323
Autauga9568133
Blount9555152
Jackson9235146
Coffee8728169
Colbert8426179
Dale8410170
Escambia6526114
Tallapoosa6501172
Covington6396163
Chilton6293141
Russell598555
Franklin5719100
Chambers5315133
Marion4734115
Dallas4665182
Clarke457076
Pike456294
Geneva4315116
Winston417192
Lawrence4086108
Bibb401680
Barbour341968
Marengo323183
Butler314988
Monroe314652
Pickens300470
Randolph299955
Henry298356
Hale289383
Cherokee284652
Fayette275672
Washington244848
Crenshaw235168
Clay225163
Macon217657
Cleburne217149
Lamar192140
Conecuh179646
Lowndes170158
Coosa166432
Wilcox155736
Bullock147742
Perry136036
Sumter124136
Greene120142
Choctaw72826
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