After RBG’s passing, health care becomes a more potent 2020 issue

There is no crystal ball offering us a peek into what’s going to happen in the coming months, but it’s easy to imagine how the legal fight surrounding the U.S. health care system is likely to unfold.

Shortly after Election Day, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act, and in light of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, a divided 4-4 court may very well tear down the nation’s health care system in its entirety. If Donald Trump’s latest nominee is confirmed by then — a distinct possibility as of this morning — the ACA’s future will be even bleaker.

All of this led the New York Times‘ Paul Krugman to consider a worthwhile question in his new column.

So are Americans with pre-existing conditions doomed? Not if Democrats take the Senate as well as the White House. If they do that, they’ll be in a position to quickly reinstate an improved version of Obamacare soon after Biden is sworn in…. So once again, if you or someone you care about has a pre-existing condition, be aware that your fate is very much on the ballot this year.

Of course, “Obamacare” does more than just protect millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions. It also provides coverage to millions of families, helps millions afford prescription medication, guarantees consumer protections to millions, etc.

But the larger point is what matters: If/when Republican-appointed justices tear down the law, all of these benefits, benefits, and guarantees will disappear.

And at that point, it will fall to elected policymakers — the White House, the U.S. Senate, and the U.S. House — to pick up the pieces and try to rescue the American families who rely on the nation’s current health care system.

All of which leaves voters with a straightforward question: if the nation’s health care system is destroyed by Republican-appointed judges, which party do you trust to build something new?

A fight over health care did real harm to GOP candidates in 2018, to the point that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said it cost his party its House majority. In 2020, it’s going to be vastly more important — and more intense.

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