Obamacare decision could be watershed moment

The Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the Affordable Care Act in a decision that will leave the law intact and save health care for millions of Americans

Posted: Jun 18, 2021 5:10 PM
Updated: Jun 18, 2021 5:10 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: 501097

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34338538
DeSoto32117403
Hinds31939628
Jackson24494382
Rankin21995390
Lee15543235
Madison14581280
Jones13851242
Forrest13453251
Lauderdale11991317
Lowndes11050188
Lamar10521135
Pearl River9533237
Lafayette8550140
Hancock7732127
Washington7438158
Oktibbeha7146131
Monroe6777177
Warren6694176
Pontotoc6664102
Neshoba6637206
Panola6531131
Marshall6467134
Bolivar6317148
Union602894
Pike5820152
Alcorn5669101
Lincoln5436135
George496879
Scott472898
Tippah469281
Prentiss467281
Leflore4658144
Itawamba4636105
Tate4588111
Adams4587119
Copiah448592
Simpson4446116
Yazoo444187
Wayne439772
Covington428894
Sunflower4239105
Marion4226108
Coahoma4160105
Leake408288
Newton381779
Grenada3707108
Stone360364
Tishomingo359792
Attala331589
Jasper329965
Winston314291
Clay308076
Chickasaw300367
Clarke292494
Calhoun279446
Holmes267987
Smith264050
Yalobusha234047
Tallahatchie228051
Greene219348
Walthall218763
Lawrence212940
Perry205556
Amite205156
Webster202946
Noxubee186740
Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171743
Carroll169138
Tunica159839
Benton148838
Kemper141941
Choctaw133426
Claiborne132737
Humphreys129538
Franklin120228
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64120
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 819597

Reported Deaths: 15406
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1147901924
Mobile725791338
Madison52306697
Shelby37597350
Baldwin37245552
Tuscaloosa35101612
Montgomery34106740
Lee23526246
Calhoun22225488
Morgan20941378
Etowah19825500
Marshall18361304
Houston17384412
St. Clair16054339
Cullman15443293
Limestone15343199
Elmore15241286
Lauderdale14302295
Talladega13836283
DeKalb12649261
Walker11202370
Blount10192176
Autauga10043148
Jackson9871184
Coffee9210191
Dale8897185
Colbert8860201
Tallapoosa7084198
Escambia6772134
Covington6712183
Chilton6641162
Russell636659
Franklin5959105
Chambers5607142
Marion5005127
Dallas4973200
Pike4795106
Clarke475584
Geneva4571127
Winston4516103
Lawrence4321117
Bibb425186
Barbour357776
Marengo338090
Monroe331464
Randolph329764
Butler326396
Pickens316284
Henry312666
Hale311388
Cherokee302860
Fayette292880
Washington251551
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245275
Clay243368
Macon234663
Lamar224147
Conecuh186153
Coosa180240
Lowndes175164
Wilcox168839
Bullock151644
Perry138840
Sumter133038
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
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Clear cool and dry to begin your weekend, but both afternoons should be a little bit above what we expect for this time of year temperature wise. Rain chances begin to return late Sunday night, with at least two chances for storms over the next week, summer could be strong.
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