- The Washington Times - Monday, July 8, 2019

Democrats highlighted the political peril Monday of an anti-Obamacare lawsuit that’s set for argument before a federal appeals court later this week, vowing to punish President Trump and anyone else backing the attempt to overturn the 2010 health law.

The Democratic Attorneys General Association deployed print and digital ads against Republican officials in Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Utah and West Virginia — all states that are backing the lawsuit that argues the Affordable Care Act is now invalid after Congress tweaked the law in 2017 to eliminate the individual mandate penalty.

“These health care hypocrites are attacking the critical care people in their states rely on to go to the doctor, afford prescription medication and take care of sick kids and family members,” said DAGA political director Farah Melendez.

Democrats point to a number of key congressional races last year where their candidates prevailed thanks in large part to defending Obamacare. They say if the law is blocked by a GOP-fueled lawsuit, Republicans will “own all of the consequences.”

While the politics are already heated in Washington, the legal arguments will play out during a hearing Tuesday before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

The judges will consider an appeal of a district court’s ruling last year that the 2010 law hinges on the individual mandate. When Congress eliminated the tax penalty in its 2017 tax code overhaul, the rest of the law falls, the judge ruled.

The Trump administration is siding with the GOP-led states, saying the Texas judge got it right.

But Republicans promises of having an alternative ready to replace Obamacare have not come to fruition. Theoretically, Congress would have a host of options to deal with the fallout, from restoring the mandate to overhauling the health system with a market-based approach, as the White House prefers.

Democrats said it’s unclear what Republicans will support, and they’re not going to throw the GOP a lifeline.

“The ball will ultimately be in the Republicans’ court,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, Connecticut Democrat. “The burden will be on the them to come up with a solution that restores people’s health care.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Republicans will “own all of the consequences” if the courts strike provisions that have extended coverage to roughly 20 million people, including children who can stay on their parents’ plans until age 26.

“They’re sort of stuck, and the Trump administration is full steam ahead,” Mr. Schumer said of GOP lawmakers.

Mr. Trump says a decision gutting Obamacare would force lawmakers back to the table, and that his party will not allow sicker Americans to be denied coverage.

But at the same time, he’s decided to punt big health-reform plans until after the 2020 campaign, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it clear his conference doesn’t have the appetite for another fight over President Obama’s legacy accomplishment.

Mr. McConnell has said there is “no point in pushing the panic button” over the Obamacare lawsuit, either, because the case must take its long course through the courts.

The Justice Department initially took a narrow view of the case, saying consumer protections pegged to the mandate should be eliminated. Administration lawyers eventually embraced the full lawsuit after the district judge’s ruling in December.

The Democratic attorneys general group said state Republicans will pay a price.

“President Trump may call the GOP ‘the party of health care,’” Ms. Melendez said, “but the truth is these Republican AGs are in court this week trying to sabotage health care coverage for millions of Americans.”

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