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Kavanaugh nomination threatens to upend American health care

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As Americans process the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, one thing is clear: he has the potential to drastically alter American health care for decades to come. Such a drastic change will certainly be destabilizing on two key issues that have been largely unchanged for four decades.

President Trump’s selection of Kavanaugh is just the latest attempt by his administration to use all branches of government to repeal health care access for millions of Americans, thus further increasing costs for the rest of us.

Rep. Ken Clark

Rep. Ken Clark

In the last year, the Trump Administration has ignored experts and issued executive orders that have resulted in millions of people losing coverage, higher costs for middle class families, and weakened protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Now, the Trump Administration is working to fight health care in the courts through legal challenges and extreme judicial appointments like Kavanaugh. Numerous high-stakes health care cases are working their way through the courts right now, most recently a lawsuit  (Texas v. HHS) to do away with consumer protections for people with pre-existing conditions. In an unprecedented move, the Trump Administration has said that it will not defend the existing law that guarantees those protections.

Currently, 133 million Americans, including 1.7 million Arizonans, have pre-existing conditions and rely on the current consumer protections against discrimination. If the lawsuit prevails, these Arizonans could be forced overnight to deal with insurance companies that will again be allowed to deny them coverage based on their medical history.

Other legal challenges include new Medicaid rules that are designed to kick people off the rolls, efforts to reduce access to affordable birth control, and numerous state actions to restrict patients’ access to care at Planned Parenthood health centers. Constantly looming in the background are attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that has given women the right to safe and legal abortion for over forty years.
Given Kavanaugh’s record, Americans are rightly concerned about their future of access to health care and how he would rule on such challenges present before the courts.

Weeks before being added to Trump’s short list, Kavanaugh publicly criticized Chief Justice Roberts’ reasoning in upholding the ACA’s individual mandate. He also issued opinions that kept a teenager pregnant against her will and gave a speech praising former Justice William Rehnquist’s dissent in Roe v. Wade. He voted against no-copay birth control. He dissented in a case upholding the Affordable Care Act. He even argued that the president can ignore courts and the law.
The Supreme Court should be a check on President Trump’s war on health care – not a rubber stamp on it. Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s record makes it clear that a vote to confirm him is a vote to take away our health care. Period.

In reality, birth control advocates will not back down –even if Roe v Wade is over-turned. America has benefited from allowing reasonable access to abortion just as we have benefited from the existence of Medicaid.

Up-ending half a century of precedent on these two fronts will only further destabilize our political system and our country.

– Rep. Ken Clark, D-Phoenix, represents Legislative District 24

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The views expressed in guest commentaries are those of the author and are not the views of the Arizona Capitol Times.

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