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EDITORIAL: Health care policy should be above presidential antics

EDITORIAL: Health care policy should be above presidential antics

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Republicans’ stunning 2020 reversal of their very own 2016 principle that no Supreme Court justice should ever be confirmed during a presidential election year isn’t the only development stamping the GOP as the Grand Old Party of Hypocrites. President Trump’s newly unveiled America First Healthcare Plan, announced last Thursday, is a neat about-face for a president and a party whose faithful wrote us letter after letter whining that Obamacare was being “crammed down the throats of Americans,” even though Democrats spent more than a year crafting it (and with full committee hearings) before the bill was finally passed in both chambers and signed into law. And the newly unveiled America First Healthcare Plan? Congress has approved no such thing. And it would spend money from savings accrued in a program that has neither been developed nor enacted.

The entire scheme practically defines the word “chicanery.”

Longtime readers know the Trib editorial board criticized the 2010 Affordable Care Act, so we have special license to question a plan that hasn’t even been vetted to the degree the ACA was. Yet last week President Trump was demonstrating the insanity of his administration, touting how he had signed an executive order to protect people with pre-existing conditions from losing their insurance, even though that’s a key element in the congressionally approved ACA that his administration is suing in federal court to destroy. And he’s ordered that his administration send out $200 discount cards to more than 30 million senior citizens to help them pay medical bills. Do any of those Republicans who swore up and down about their unflinching fidelity to the Constitution want to tell the president that federal spending must be authorized by Congress? Probably not.

Let’s face it. While the president has been busy tweeting slurs, holding political rallies and running roughshod over constitutional checks and balances through knee-jerk signings of executive orders (which Republicans were decidedly against in principle till 2017), he has largely ignored a complex issue imperiling millions of Americans, some likely his own supporters. During the 2016 election, he vowed he would trim health-care costs, expand medical coverage and safeguard Americans penalized in securing insurance because of pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or cancer. However, Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on anything and the supposedly almighty dealmaker in the White House has proven himself impotent in pressing workable policy deals or bringing warring political parties together.

There are lessons to be drawn about a political party and an administration that seem to have plenty of time to trash supposed principles and press for hasty confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice for life, yet plea election campaigning as an excuse for not providing health-care protections for U.S. citizens or relief for an economy reeling because of the White House’s botched approach to tackling a pandemic that has killed more than 205,000 of us in seven months.

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