President Donald J. Trump told the world he has been exonerated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and the whole probe was a waste of time. (And, of course, the news media is to blame as the official enemy of the people.)
Since that story is old, “no collusion,” the White House has started a new one, an all out attack on the Affordable Care Act, including the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. And the chaos is back.
This is Trahant Reports.
Let’s start at the beginning. The Mueller Report was delivered to the Department of Justice under an official protocol. The president after reading a summary tweeted: “Total EXONERATION.”
The issue is now defined so when parts, or even all, of the Mueller report surfaces, it will be the attorney general’s interpretation, not the actual report itself, that reflects the story. Even that letter goes beyond the presidential tweet. Attorney General William Barr wrote … “while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
But that was enough for the president and he moved on to new issues.
The Justice Department wrote a letter to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said it would file a brief supporting a district court decision to strike down the entire Affordable Care Act. U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor, a George W. Bush appointee, ruled that since Congress eliminated the individual insurance mandate penalty, the entire law is invalid.
No matter how the appeals court rules, this matter is likely to be before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Striking down the Affordable Care Act would have immediate impact for more than 20 million Americans who are covered by insurance through Medicaid Expansion or insurance exchanges. The law includes the Indian Health Care Improvement Act — and that would be included in a rollback of the legislation.
It’s hard to understate the significance of a judicial repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Medicaid, for example, is now a significant source of funding for the Indian Health system especially for facilities managed by tribes and non-profit organizations. More than one out of every four Native patients in the Indian health system are covered by Medicaid.
A study in 2017 by the Kaiser Family Foundation said Medicaid provisions in the Affordable Care Act Medicaid led to an increase in coverage coverage gains among American Indians and Alaska Natives and and increased revenue to IHS- and tribally-operated facilities.
In addition to the revenue, health systems have modeled the procedures and funding on the 2010 law. If it were struck down there would be nothing to replace the revenue or the health care procedures until Congress enacted a new one.
That would mean a law that is as acceptable to the Republicans in the Senate, the Democrats in the House, and President Trump.
An impossible hurdle.
I am Mark Trahant.