Another clunker: John Cornyn’s ad on preexisting conditions

In a new campaign ad, Cornyn says one of the law’s central features, its guarantee that insurers must sell plans to any patients with preexisting conditions, “is something we all agree should be covered.”

Cornyn is a fixture of Texas and national politics and the No. 2 Republican in Senate leadership. His lead in this year’s race is not slim, and his ad is more carefully worded than the rest.

But Cornyn continues to oppose the Affordable Care Act, and his campaign would not say whether he backs a Republican lawsuit seeking to strike down the entire law at the Supreme Court.

If the ACA were to fall, the legislation Cornyn proposes as a replacement to cover those with preexisting conditions says “nothing … shall be construed to restrict the amount that an employer or individual may be charged for coverage under a group health plan.” Charge them whatever price, it says.

Experts say this arrangement would leave tens of millions of Americans with preexisting conditions at risk and possibly facing unaffordable rates for insurance. That’s why we’ve previously described the GOP proposal Cornyn supports as a “car without an engine.”

The Facts

The Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature health-care legislation, has long been a target for Republicans. Cornyn has voted numerous times to repeal or replace it since its enactment in 2010. This is the third presidential election cycle in which the fate of the law is a top issue for candidates and voters.

Efforts to repeal “Obamacare” in Congress have fallen short for lack of agreement among Republicans on how best to rewrite it, most notably in 2017 and 2018, when the GOP controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House. The Supreme Court has upheld the act twice in the face of challenges from conservative groups and is scheduled to hear arguments in the latest case (California v. Texas) on Nov. 10.

As coronavirus cases reached a new high in the United States, the Trump administration filed a legal brief on June 25 asking the Supreme Court to strike down the entire law, joining with a group of GOP state attorneys general who argue the ACA is unconstitutional. About 20 million people could lose their health insurance amid a pandemic if the GOP effort succeeds.

The lawsuit comes from Cornyn’s home state, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R). The federal judge who initially ruled to strike down the law in this case is a former Cornyn aide sitting in Texas.

“Asked if he wanted to see the lawsuit succeed, Cornyn did not say,” according to an article last month in the Texas Tribune. We asked the Cornyn campaign the same question and did not get an answer.

On his campaign website, Cornyn says, “Our health care system is broken, but Obamacare — with its unattainable costs, job-killing policies and intrusion between a patient and their doctor — isn’t the answer.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) last month forced