On February 10, 2012, the Obama Administration announced that the preventive care benefits mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) would be interpreted to include contraception coverage. This decision proved controversial from the very beginning and elicited numerous legal objections. Many religious organizations and religious owners of businesses objected to the narrow scope of religious exemptions originally allowed in the mandate. Notably, the Supreme Court ruled in 2014 to expand the exemptions to the mandate to include closely held for-profit corporations with “sincerely held religious beliefs.” At issue in these legal challenges was whether the contraception mandate substantially burdened the free exercise of religion, as it is protected under the First Amendment to the US Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Follow liberals and anti-Trump conservatives on Twitter and you will often see the accusation that Donald Trump is killing people. For example, here are some recent tweets from three Trump critics:
Pepin Lachance @PepinLachance: @foxand friends @realDonaldTrump GOP and Trump undermining the healthcare of US citizens. They should be ashamed. People will die due to republicans they are killing us.
Gia Sonata @RedGia: @GeorgeTakei @sherrilee7 Oh – Trump is killing people. Slowly. With TrumpCare. Deregulation. FLINT still doesn’t have clean water. “Killing me softly w/his song”
Josh B @joshious: @SenDeanHeller @BillCassidy @LindseyGrahamSC Nevadans will hold you accountable for killing thousands of people and raising healthcare costs for all if you don’t vote NO on Trumpcare!
Repealing Obamacare would certainly lead to deaths. Twenty to 30 million people would lose their health insurance under the various repeal-and-replace bills that were considered by Congress in July. Loss of health insurance would mean less healthcare, and less healthcare would mean more deaths. But we could just say Trump will be letting people die, if he fulfills his pledge to end Obamacare. Should we go further and say he’ll be killing people?
For the moment, Republicans are setting aside their seven-year effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. A slew of bills failed in the Senate, and now President Trump and the Republican majority in Congress plan on turning to tax reform. But doubtless, before long we’ll be hearing about the Affordable Care Act again. Not only do conservatives despise it, but even Democrats think it needs work. What I’d most like conservatives to rethink, during this interim peace, is their opposition to the individual mandate.
Last week, the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act 217-213, which will effectively repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) if the bill makes it to President Trump’s desk. The bill, nicknamed Trumpcare, was passed without a score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), meaning that the true costs of the bill remain uncertain. Estimates from the New York Times based on the CBO score for an earlier version show that the bill will cause around 24 million Americans to lose healthcare. The bill has been amended since the earlier version, which was pulled after only 17 percent of Americans supported the bill, but much of the bill remains that same as the one that lacked support.