Opinion | The Affordable Care Act could be eliminated if Trump returns to office

Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is honing in on a familiar campaign promise: He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In the months since Trump revived calls to repeal the ACA, he has repeated his public attacks at least seven times. Once again, we face a serious threat to American health and the financial security of millions of families.

Once again, we face a serious threat to American health and the financial security of millions of families.

Some have been quick to dismiss Trump’s recent comments as an empty threat. This is a mistake. During his time in office, Trump successfully undermined the law, causing enrollment to drop and weakening protections for people with pre-existing conditions. He fell just one vote short of fully repealing the ACA in 2017, and now, the Republican Party has only become more and more motivated to fall in line with Trump.

Fourteen years after it was signed into law, the ACA is woven into the fabric of our lives. The law is more popular than ever: A record 21.3 million people signed up for ACA coverage by 2024. With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress helped millions of families find a plan at no cost or at all. Additionally, the Biden administration made historic investments in education and outreach to get people signed up in stark contrast to Trump, who routinely cut that funding during his time in office.

The ACA also includes a wide range of cost savings and protections that affect nearly every household in the country. For example, the ACA ensures that more than 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will not be discriminated against by insurance companies, allows children to stay on their parents’ coverage until age 26, lowers the costs of prescription drugs for 52 million seniors and requires insurance companies to cover critical preventive care, such as vaccines, contraception and cancer screening.

Through a deliberate campaign of sabotage, the Trump administration weakened protections for people with pre-existing conditions, made it harder to sign up for affordable coverage, and raised health care costs for millions. Trump expanded access to short-term and partnership health plans that can deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. As a result, ACA enrollment fell and people were pushed into junk plans that didn’t need to cover essential care, like hospital visits or prescription drugs. Millions of people were left uninsured or uninsured, leaving families with bills for non-covered care.

In a hypothetical second Trump term, this assault on health care would only continue. Even if full repeal fails, Trump and the Republicans will still destroy the law and deprive millions of affordable quality health care. Under the guise of offering cheaper insurance, Republicans could revisit their efforts to expand junk plans that don’t cover pre-existing conditions. The GOP could also return to its longtime goal of slashing Medicaid through block grants and onerous paperwork requirements, leaving people on the sidelines. Other actions to undermine the ACA include cutting funding for navigators that help people sign up for coverage and increasing tax breaks for the wealthy through health savings accounts.

Trump could also use his influence in the courts. Several lawsuits are underway that could dismantle the ACA’s requirement that insurers cover life-saving preventive care and take away Medicare’s power to negotiate lower drug prices. As the Biden administration fights tirelessly to protect patients in court, Trump could simply decide not to defend the ACA and the Inflation Reduction Act against these legal attacks.

The bottom line is that we need to take Trump’s promises to repeal and sabotage the ACA seriously.

The bottom line is that we need to take Trump’s promises to repeal and sabotage the ACA seriously. He wants to reverse a loss he describes as a horrible thing that happened to the Republican Party. This is personal for Trump who wants to get back at the late Sen. John McCain, his predecessor, President Barack Obama and other political enemies. And we know that MAGA Republicans will follow him to the end.

Biden has shown what it means to improve health care. It has lowered prescription drug and insurance costs, helped families sign up for coverage, and taken on big drug companies and other corporate interests. Trump’s plan to further weaken health care will only take us backwards, leave millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions without affordable care, and throw the entire health care system into chaos.

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