Today, a new Daily Beast report shows the GOP is “plowing ahead” with their lawsuit to repeal the Affordable Care Act, despite the “immense” impact it would have on dismantling Iowa’s public health system amid a growing pandemic. Yet, Senator Joni Ernst has refused to condemn her party’s imminent threat to Iowa communities, saying, I’m not saying whether I support it or not.

Notably, Senator Ernst’s failure to fight this lawsuit leaves rural communities at grave risk. The suit would repeal Iowa’s Medicaid expansion that rural hospitals “rely on” to stay open, compounding on how rural providers have been left “ill-equipped” to treat coronavirus outbreak.

Iowa public health leaders have said the “first peak” of coronavirus cases is still weeks away, and repealing the ACA’s guarantee that insurers cover COVID-19 tests would undermine efforts to stunt the disease’s spread – and in effect, add to the financial struggles facing workers and small businesses.

“Senator Ernst’s refusal to condemn her party’s lawsuit makes her unequivocally complicit in an effort that would put Iowans’ healths at an even greater risk. Repealing Iowans’ health protections has been Senator Ernst’s career crusade – and the fact that she refuses to back down amid dire circumstances makes clear that her loyalties are not with Iowans,” said Jeremy Busch, Iowa Democratic Party spokesperson. 


The Daily Beast: GOP Plows Forward on Plans to Kill Obamacare, Pandemic Be Damned

By: Sam Brodey

March 30, 2020

  • The worsening coronavirus outbreak may be stretching the limits of the U.S. health care system and overwhelming state governments, but that isn’t deterring a group of 18 state attorneys general from plowing ahead with a lawsuit that could overturn the Affordable Care Act within a year—a move that could disrupt the health care system at a time of deep crisis.
  • Their determination to kill the law, no matter the circumstances, mirrors President Trump’s. Asked at a press conference last week whether the virus had changed his plans to press ahead in court, Trump affirmed that “what we want to do is terminate it.”
  • If the Trump administration and these states succeed in repealing the ACA, the impact on the country’s public health system would be immense, pandemic or not. That the decision could come early next year—at the tail end or recovery stage of a devastating outbreak—gives it a seismic significance for the 20 million Americans covered by the law, the 84 million who are uninsured or under-insured, and the insurers, hospitals, and governments that have adapted to Obamacare over the course of a decade.
  • While Congress has passed legislation to provide free coronavirus testing to everyone, health insurance to cover related treatments and other ailments is another matter. Last week, an uninsured Boston woman who contracted COVID-19 and went to the hospital was sent a bill for $35,000. On Wednesday, the mayor of Lancaster, California, confirmed that a 17-year old boy died from COVID-19 after a local hospital turned him away for treatment because he didn’t have insurance.
  • Unless legislators step in with a ready-made replacement for Obamacare—which is unlikely—at least 20 million Americans would lose their coverage if the Supreme Court strikes it down.
  • “The only thing worse than a public health pandemic is a public health pandemic without health care,” said Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist. “It’s hard to imagine their sales pitch for a lawsuit that takes away health care for 20 million Americans as we face a pandemic. It’s like watching the Chernobyl disaster and deciding to bulldoze the fallout shelters.”
  • After hearing arguments this fall, the Supreme Court could render a ruling in the case as early as spring of 2021. It’s unclear how long the coronavirus public health emergency will last, but it’s widely accepted that the U.S. will be dealing with its fallout for months, if not years, after it tapers off.
  • Tara Straw, a health care analyst at the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities who has studied the Texas case, said that pressing ahead with efforts to overturn the ACA right now is “unconscionable.” She predicted the decision could have far-reaching consequences: if the coronavirus outbreak spurs a long period of high unemployment, for example, far more than 20 million people could lose coverage if the ACA is struck down.
  • That could also shift heavy cost burdens to state governments that are facing long-term financial stress because of the crisis, and hurt broader recovery if people are directing more of their income to medical care. “Talk about compounding a crisis,” said Straw.