- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2018

A pro-Obamacare group wasted little time Monday in linking Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court and the fate of the health care law, saying a ruling that strikes down its popular protections for sicker Americans is right around the corner and that Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is to blame.

Dubbed “Breaking News,” the ad envisions a report on a ruling in 2019 or 2020 in which Justice Kavanaugh casts the “deciding vote” in a 5-4 decision that guts Obamacare.

Right now, a U.S. district court judge in Texas is mulling whether to side with state Republicans who say Congress’ decision to gut the law’s mandate to hold insurance means the rest of the law should be frozen immediately.

The ominous ad from Protect Our Care skips a few steps in the legal fight and assumes GOP victory before the Supreme Court.

“The court sided with the Trump administration to overturn the Affordable Care Act,” the narrator says. “That ruling strikes down protections for people with preexisting conditions, allowing insurance companies to deny coverage to over half a million Mainers.”

Ms. Collins bucked vocal pressure from progressive groups and voted to confirm Justice Kavanaugh over the weekend. She defended her decision in a lengthy speech on Friday, approving of Republicans’ handling of sensitive sexual assault allegations and blasting outside interest groups for their extreme tactics in trying to sink Mr. Trump’s pick.

Left-wing groups fumed, saying they were still smarting over Ms. Collins’ decision to back a GOP tax overhaul that gutted Obamacare’s “individual mandate” to hold insurance or else pay a tax, especially after she’d rallied to their side in the debate over repealing and replacing the 2010 law.

Congress’ decision to zero out the penalty prompted 20 GOP-led states to file a lawsuit claiming Congress, in effect, invalidated the entire Obamacare program, since the government wouldn’t be collecting new revenue from the mandate.

Supreme Court Justice John G. Roberts Jr. cited Congress’ taxing authority in upholding President Obama’s law in 2012.

Though legal analysts say that Chief Justice Roberts remains the swing vote in the matter, liberals argue the lawsuit is intertwined with Justice Kavanaugh’s ascension, saying anything could happen if the case reaches the reconfigured court.

“The new conservative majority on the Supreme Court threatens a rollback of protections for people with pre-existing conditions, more leverage for corporate special interests over working families, and little hope to reform Citizens United,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wrote in a weekend letter designed to galvanized Democrats.

For her part, Ms. Collins doesn’t face reelection until 2020, though Obamacare’s defenders opted to highlight her role while the Kavanaugh and Obamacare fights are in the news.

Ms. Collins has said her decision to gut the individual mandate would have been mitigated by an Obamacare “stabilization” package that Democrats this year rejected over pro-life language.

She also urged the Trump administration to reconsider its hands-off approach to the lawsuit, saying Congress never intended to strike protections for people with preexisting conditions when it tweaked Obamacare with its tax bill.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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