GOP senator: Getting rid of health care for preexisting conditions is not that big a deal

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says between 50 million and 129 million Americans have preexisting conditions.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said Thursday that preexisting health conditions are not as big a deal as Democrats are making them seem, using one of the most popular provisions in the Affordable Care Act to attack Democrats.

"The left, including Joe Biden in Tuesday's debate, overstates the problem of pre-existing conditions to justify political control of health care," Cornyn tweeted.

Cornyn was paraphrasing a line from an editorial written by the conservative editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, which claimed that the number of people with preexisting conditions who gained access to health insurance coverage thanks to Obamacare is a "mere" 3.5 million.

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The editorial pushes Republicans to continue fighting to repeal Obamacare, saying they need to have the "political courage to sell reform to voters."

Republicans, including Donald Trump, have tried to repeal Obamacare for years — but have failed. Cornyn voted for all three GOP repeal bills in 2017, which fell apart amid a massive public outcry. Estimates at the time said the GOP's Obamacare repeal and replacement bills would have caused 32 million Americans to lose their insurance coverage.

Now Trump is backing a lawsuit currently before the Supreme Court that would invalidate Obamacare altogether, with no replacement plan ready to go. The chances that lawsuit would be successful increased following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with Republicans on track to replace the liberal justice with Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative who has expressed opposition to Obamacare.

If the Supreme Court sides with Trump and Republicans in that lawsuit, even more Americans could lose their insurance coverage in the middle of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimated in October 2019 that 54 million people under the age of 65 — when Americans become eligible for health care coverage under Medicare — "have pre-existing health conditions that would likely have made them uninsurable in the individual markets that existed in most states before the Affordable Care Act."

Republicans like Cornyn and Trump are trying to play down the impacts an Obamacare repeal would have on people with preexisting conditions, even though protecting coverage for those people is overwhelmingly popular. In fact, support for Obamacare is currently at its highest level ever, with 62% of voters approving of the law, according to a new Morning Consult poll.

During the presidential debate on Tuesday night, Trump disputed Democratic nominee Joe Biden's assertion that there are 100 million people in the United States with preexisting conditions as he defended appointing a Supreme Court nominee who may help overturn Obamacare.

"There aren't 100 million people with preexisting conditions," Trump said — a false claim, as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates that between 50 million and 129 million nonelderly Americans have preexisting conditions.

Cornyn is facing a tough reelection battle for his Senate seat against Democrat MJ Hegar.

Health care is a top issue in the race, with Hegar reminding voters that Cornyn has voted numerous times to repeal Obamacare.

Inside Elections, a nonpartisan political handicapping outlet, says Cornyn's reelection race "leans Republican."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.