Late Monday night the Trump administration issued an eye-catching legal filing, essentially advocating for the elimination of the entire Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. This was a reversal from the White House’s previous position, which only sought to invalidate certain, often popular, provisions of the law. If the administration gets its way, there would be widespread chaos as the health care system would drastically revert to its pre-ACA era existence overnight—with impacts ranging from millions of people losing Medicaid to insurers being able to refuse people because of preexisting conditions and to charge people for birth control.
The administration’s filing Monday asks a federal court to approve a ruling from earlier this year in a federal court in Texas that said Obamacare was “unconstitutional” and struck down the entirety of the health care law.
The plethora of Democrats currently running to unseat Donald Trump in 2020 eagerly pounced on the news as a major development, making it even more clear that health policy will be keyed up as a prime topic during the next presidential election, just as it was in last year’s midterms. “If it’s a fight for healthcare this administration wants, it’s a fight they’ll get—and we will win,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand tweeted Monday night. But while Trump’s opposition to health care reforms received plenty of attention Tuesday morning, the legal filing was not actually a major break in policy goals; Trump and his officials have spent the past two years latching onto any and every possible method to undermine Obamacare—both broadly and by slowly whittling away key provisions. What it is, though, is basically a major political gift to Democrats.