Republicans are nearing an opportunity to undo Obamacare that could wreak unprecedented disruption on healthcare markets and expose the party to tremendous political risk in the 2020 elections.
A Republican-led lawsuit against Obamacare working its way through the courts could leave at least 20 million people uninsured and expose sick patients to higher costs. Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are without a backup plan and are struggling to devise one.
In effect, the GOP is once again nearing its near decade-long goal of undoing the healthcare law, but in such a way that would leave them totally unprepared and responsible for far more dislocation even than President Barack Obama was in 2013, when millions suddenly saw their insurance plans changed.
“‘When the gods wish to punish us they answer our prayers,'” said Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist who worked on Hillary Clinton’s campaign, quoting the Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde. “If the law is struck down, that will answer a 10-year prayer for Republicans, but voters will punish them for it.”
The legal challenge in question was mounted by GOP state officials and is supported by President Trump. It says Obamacare should be thrown out because it lacks an essential component: the fine on the uninsured, which Congress zeroed out as part of the 2017 Republican tax overhaul.
While the suit was initially considered a long shot, a federal judge already declared the healthcare law unconstitutional. It is now being weighed by an appeals court panel comprising three judges, two of whom are Republican appointees.