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With poll after poll showing that health care is the issue that most concerns Americans, President Donald Trump would be wise to rethink his recent terrifying strategy: moving to destroy the nation’s system, promising to quickly reinvent it, and then saying he’ll do nothing for 20 months. It’s enough to make a nation ill.

Last week, the Trump administration asked a federal appeals court to strike down the Affordable Care Act. It was a shocking about-face from the previous stance of defending the law’s Medicaid expansion, subsidies to make insurance affordable, the rule that young adults can stay on parents’ policies until age 26, and the national exchange itself.

Trump said then, “The Republican Party will soon become the party of health care,” even though other Republicans said the party had no plan. But Monday night, he redefined “soon,” tweeting that the GOP initiative won’t be introduced until after the 2020 election.

In New York, many of the protections of the ACA were adopted into state law last week. That guarantees policies will cover core benefits and pre-existing conditions. But it does not change the fact that at least 1 million New Yorkers would be in serious danger of losing their insurance if the Medicaid expansion and federal subsidies of the ACA ended.

Trump claims that the GOP will regain the House in 2020, and then he will pass the inexpensive, high-quality, fictional overhaul he has promised since 2015. This ignores the fact that he had both chambers on his side in 2017 and 2018 and never came close to penning a workable plan.

The political cost of threatening people’s health care is high, as both Democrats and Republicans have learned. The human cost could be even higher if the courts strike down a law that protects Americans before Trump deigns to unveil its replacement.

-- Newsday

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