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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

For weeks as HealthCare.gov foundered, Republicans focused on President Barack Obama’s claim that “if you like your plan, you can keep it,” which was dubbed PolitiFact‘s Lie of the Year. Republicans purposely neglected to differentiate between the number of Americans whose plans were being canceled and those whose entire coverage was lost.

Now it turns out that the millions of notices that were sent out will result in just thousands of Americans losing access to affordable insurance.

A new report, however, from the minority staff of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce shows that only 0.2 percent of the approximately five million cancelations – the number often referenced by the Republican Party – will lose coverage because of Obamacare, and be unable to regain it.

In other words, only 10,000 people will lose complete coverage.

The report assumes that 4.7 million people will receive cancelation letters about their current plans. It then finds that half of that number will have the option to renew their 2013 plans, due to an administrative fix to the health law. Of the remaining 2.35 million Americans, 1.4 million would be eligible for tax credits through the ACA exchanges or Medicaid coverage, and out of the 950,000 individuals left, according to the report, “fewer than 10,000” people would lack access to an “affordable catastrophic plan.”

As the Washington Post notes, “there’s no doubt that for those 10,000 people, the health care law left them worse off than before.” Still, that number is significantly less than the amount of people who did not have access to any coverage prior to Obamacare.

“This new report shows that people will get the health insurance coverage they need, contrary to the dire predictions of Republicans,” says Democratic representative Henry Waxman (CA). “Millions of American families are already benefitting from the law.”

Ironically, as Republicans fret over the approximate 10,000 people who will lose coverage in 2014, they are to blame for the nearly five million Americans who will not have any health insurance this year because of the GOP’s refusal to expand Medicaid in various states across the country.

Though the Affordable Care Act provides complete funding through 2016 for Medicaid expansion in all states – and 90 percent funding in the following years – 25 Republican-controlled states have still refused to expand the program that offers coverage to the poor.

As a result, approximately 4.8 million people will find themselves inside the so-called “coverage gap,” which one report suggests could cost 27,000 Americans their lives in 2014.

Photo: LeDawna’s Pics via Flickr

Photo by expertinfantry/ CC BY 2.0

At this moment, the president of the United States is threatening to "throw out" the votes of millions of Americans to hijack an election that he seems more than likely to lose. Donald Trump is openly demanding that state authorities invalidate lawful absentee ballots, no different from the primary ballot he mailed to his new home state of Florida, for the sole purpose of cheating. And his undemocratic scheme appears to enjoy at least nominal support from the Supreme Court, which may be called upon to adjudicate the matter.

But what is even worse than Trump's coup plot — and the apparent assent of unprincipled jurists such as Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — is the Democratic Party's feeble response to this historic outrage. It is the kind of issue that Republicans, with their well-earned reputation for political hardball, would know how to exploit fully and furiously.

They know because they won the same game in Florida 20 years ago.

During that ultimate legal showdown between George W. Bush and Al Gore, when every single vote mattered, a Democratic lawyer argued in a memorandum to the Gore team that the validity of absentee ballots arriving after Election Day should be challenged. He had the law on his side in that particular instance — but not the politics.

As soon as the Republicans got hold of that memo, they realized that it was explosive. Why? Many of the late ballots the Democrats aimed to invalidate in Florida had been sent by military voters, and the idea of discarding the votes of service personnel was repellent to all Americans. Former Secretary of State James Baker, who was overseeing the Florida recount for Bush, swiftly denounced the Democratic plot against the soldiers, saying: "Here we have ... these brave young men and women serving us overseas. And the postmark on their ballot is one day late. And you're going to deny him the right to vote?"

Never mind the grammar; Baker's message was powerful — and was followed by equally indignant messages in the following days from a parade of prominent Bush backers including retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, the immensely popular commander of U.S. troops in the Desert Storm invasion that drove Saddam Hussein's army out of Kuwait. Fortuitously, Schwarzkopf happened to be on the scene as a resident of Florida.

As Jeffrey Toobin recounted in Too Close to Call, his superb book on the Florida 2000 fiasco, the Democrats had no choice but to retreat. "I would give the benefit of the doubt to ballots coming in from military personnel," conceded then-Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Gore's running mate, during a defensive appearance on Meet the Press. But Toobin says Gore soon realized that to reject military ballots would render him unable to serve as commander in chief — and that it would be morally wrong.

Fast-forward to 2020, when many of the same figures on the Republican side are now poised to argue that absentee ballots, which will include many thousands of military votes — should not be counted after Election Day, even if they arrived on time. Among those Republicans is Justice Kavanaugh, who made the opposite argument as a young lawyer working for Bush in Florida 20 years ago. Nobody expects legal consistency or democratic morality from a hack like him, but someone should force him and his Republican colleagues to own this moment of shame.

Who can do that? Joe Biden's campaign and the Democratic Party ought to be exposing the Republican assault on military ballots — and, by the same token, every legally valid absentee ballot — every day. But the Democrats notoriously lack the killer instinct of their partisan rivals, even at a moment of existential crisis like this one.

No, this is clearly a job for the ex-Republicans of the Lincoln Project, who certainly recall what happened in Florida in 2000. They have the attitude and aptitude of political assassins. They surely know how to raise hell over an issue like military votes — and now is the time to exercise those aggressive skills in defense of democracy.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.