The GOP Wants to Use McCain's Death to Try and Repeal Obamacare, Critics Say

The Republican Party is trying to “dismantle” the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, following Republican Senator John McCain’s death.

That’s the argument made in an op-ed published in The Hill on Friday. It was written by Ezekiel Emanuel, an Obamacare architect and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress; Sarah DiMagno, a research fellow for Emanuel at the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy; and Aaron Glickman, also a research fellow for Emanuel.

Emanuel was a key figure in designing the ACA, former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare program. He's also met with Trump on several occassions since he took office to dicuss healthcare policy. 

“While praising his character, commitment to duty and faithfulness to the rules of democratic governance in public, privately Republicans are using the same tricks McCain rejected as inconsistent with regular order and deliberative democracy to ram through a wildly unpopular repeal of the ACA,” the three wrote in their op-ed.

They were referring to Senate Republicans’ request to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey that he appoint someone to replace McCain who, unlike the late senator, would vote with the GOP to repeal the Obama-era healthcare law. Republicans have said if they maintain control of the U.S. House and Senate following the November midterm elections, they would again vote to repeal the law.

“If we re-engage in that discussion in some point in the future, it would be nice to have members who enable us to pass it,” said Republican Senator John Thune in the days following McCain’s August 25 death, according to The Hill.

He added that he hoped McCain’s successor would be a “strong ally” who “recognizes that Obamacare is not a proper solution.”

There is no official announcement as to who will replace the decades-long senator, despite speculations of who Ducey could pick.

“This renewed assault is a shameful exploitation of [McCain’s] death,” the three opinion writers said.

They also pointed to Congressional Republicans’ past efforts to repeal and defund the law, something McCain famously voted against in July 2017 with a thumbs down motion just days after undergoing surgery.

Republican lawmakers in states across the country have declined to accept Obamacare funding that would expand the Medicaid program. The party also repealed the individual mandate, which required people to obtain health insurance or else pay a penalty. It was a key pillar for the 2010 law that was designed to offset health insurer’s costs for sicker patients by adding healthier ones into the insurance pool. 

The Trump administration used its regulatory power last month to temporarily halt a program that would pay more than $10 billion to insurance companies that covered high-risk individuals in the past, a move that insurers said could create “market uncertainty and increase premiums.” In October 2017, Trump also signed an executive order that sought to allow the purchase of cheaper but less comprehensive health insurance plans compared to those offered by Obamacare.

As of July, about 20 million Americans had received health insurance through Obamacare.  

“Now, Senate leaders want to try again, after McCain’s swing vote is replaced by an unelected, caretaker Senator,” they wrote. “This is a total subversion of the democratic process. The American people have spoken and they do not want repeal. ”

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