During a town hall meeting Wednesday afternoon in Clear Lake, Iowa, Congressman Steve King was asked how the Trump Administration would respond if the Affordable Care Act was dismantled and millions of Americans lost their health insurance.
King, representing Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, said he was not “privy” to any plan the administration might have in the event that portions of, or the entire law, is found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
The Republican congressman has been adamantly opposed to former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act since it was signed into law in 2010, though he now claims to have a “deep commitment” to protecting health care services for Americans with preexisting conditions.
“That’s a real focus within our conference,” King said at his second town hall of the new year.
“The simple thing is to find it completely unconstitutional,” King said. “I’m hopeful that if that happens — and, actually, I am hopeful that happens because you know I’ve opposed it all along — I’m hopeful that we have time to put the pieces in place so that we can have a more affordable health care situation that can be tailored to the will and the wishes of the people and the consumers, rather than what turns out to be almost one-size-fits-all for America.”
President Donald Trump has worked to sabotage the ACA since the day he took office in January 2017, but ultimately was unsuccessful in repealing it through partisan legislation. Republicans were successful, however, in eliminating the tax penalty for failing to maintain health insurance through their federal tax bill that took effect in January 2018.
When Democrats took control of the House in 2019, the notion of getting rid of the ACA in Congress became a non-starter. Instead, the law has been embroiled in legal battles, the most recent being a federal appeals court decision in December. In New Orleans, an appeals court panel sided with a lower-court judge that the part of the ACA requiring most Americans have health insurance was unconstitutional because Congress eliminated the tax penalty used to enforce the individual mandate.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court denied a request from Democratic state officials and the U.S. House of Representatives to “quickly consider” the appeal, which has the potential to entirely wipe out the ACA. Court watchers have reported that the decision to deny Democrats’ request makes it unlikely the case will be heard before the court’s term ends in June.
In lieu of the ACA, King suggests allowing health insurance to be bought and sold across state lines “so that we’ve got competition in the industry.” He also said the “cheaper pharmaceuticals” sold in Canada should be available in the U.S.; Health Savings Accounts should be expanded; and medical malpractice could be reformed as a way to lower health insurance premiums.
Data from the Department of Health and Human Services show 1.3 million Iowans with preexisting health conditions could be impacted by a repeal of the ACA. A March 2019 report from the Urban Institute estimates 187,000 Iowans who rely on the program for their health insurance are in danger of losing coverage altogether.
By Elizabeth Meyer