Op Ed

GOP Obamacare Lawsuit a Cynical Political Stunt

U.S. Supreme Court strikes down suit. Meanwhile, Vos and and state GOP obstruct Medicaid expansion.

By - Jun 21st, 2021 02:42 pm
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. File photo by Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. File photo by Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

“The third attempt to derail the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at the (U.S.) Supreme Court suffered the same unsuccessful fate of the first two (challenges in 2012 and 2015) on Thursday … .” (Washington Post). The 7-2 majority included two of Donald Trump’s three nominees. Moreover, the conservative-led Court dismissed the 2018 lawsuit brought by GOP attorneys general (AGs), including then Wisconsin AG Brad Schimel. Healthcare legal expert Timothy Jost commented on the lawsuit: “It’s politics. It’s not law.” It was a breathtakingly cynical stunt by Schimel and then Wisconsin GOP Governor Scott Walker, who approved Schimel’s involvement.

The GOP AGs were not the only political obstructionists. Republicans in Congress tried more than 60 times to repeal or weaken the ACA. And, Trump tried mightily to dismantle the ACA, blocked in part by Arizona GOP Senator John McCain. A profile of courage. Later, Trump tried sabotage: deep cuts in ACA advertising and outreach; decreased enrollment period; stopped federal payment of out-of-pocket healthcare costs and promoted useless bare-bones insurance.

Wisconsin GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos led his own obstruction-sabotage campaign after Walker lost to now Democratic Governor Tony Evers. In an unprecedented partisan power grab, Vos pushed legislation to curtail the powers of Governor-elect Evers before he was sworn in. One of the most odious provisions put the GOP-led legislature in charge of litigation, preventing Evers from removing Wisconsin from the lawsuit by Schimel and Walker to overturn the ACA. GOP state Senator Robert Cowles, in a gutsy dissent, opposed the legislation: “I feel that our own party crossed the line.”

Favorable state and federal court decisions allowed Governor Evers to withdraw Wisconsin from the anti-ACA lawsuit, to Vos’ chagrin, before it reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Vos ruled as an ultra-partisan Assembly Speaker throughout. He seems oblivious that he represents the entire Assembly: “Each house shall choose its presiding officers from its own members” (Wisconsin Constitution). Nor does Vos take his oath of office seriously: “Members of the legislature, and all officers … (shall) take and subscribe an oath or affirmation to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the state of Wisconsin and faithfully to discharge the duties of their respective offices …” (Wisconsin Constitution).

Against common sense, math and morality Vos continues to lead a scorched-earth campaign against ACA Medicaid expansion. Because of Vos Wisconsin has lost $1.6 billion since 2013 by not expanding BadgerCare (Medicaid) and the state is on track to lose another $1.6 billion in federal funding to expand BadgerCare. Inexplicable incompetence and stupidity. Many GOP-led states have taken the ACA Medicaid expansion funding, but not Wisconsin. Vos refuses to reconsider, even during a pandemic.

Over the last year about 245,000 additional Wisconsinites without healthcare coverage enrolled in BadgerCare. But the state is paying much more because of Vos’ stunning obstinacy. Former GOP state Senator Luther Olsen unsuccessfully tried to coax Vos out of the corner. It’s time for the voters to sweep Vos and other obstructionist GOP legislators away.

This column was originally published by Wispolitics.com.

Bill Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C., for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

Categories: Health, Op-Ed, Politics

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