Going off half-cocked

In December, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled the individual mandate in the landmark Affordable Care Act “can no longer be sustained as an exercise of Congress’ tax power.” According to The Washington Post, O’Connor based his opinion on Republican changes made to the tax law in 2017.

However, the judge did not stop with just that finding — he ruled that flaw invalidated the entire act.

In a surprise move last week, the Trump administration said it would file a brief in support of O’Connor’s ruling at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans, where an appeal is pending.

In short, the federal government is backing the complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The only difficulty is that nobody in Congress or the administration has any idea what will replace it.

And that could prove problematic for the estimated 8 million Americans who get their insurance through the act’s exchanges. Fortune estimates that between the exchanges and expansion of Medicaid, 20 million more citizens now have coverage than before the passage of the ACA.

President Donald Trump promptly announced that soon the Republicans “would become the party of health care.” Except he had no details on what his plan would look like — or who was crafting it. No senator raised his hand and said here’s the plan — no member of the House pulled a bill out of his or her pocket.

But the president said it would be “beautiful.” He said pre-existing conditions would be covered — but didn’t say how they would be paid for.

We are not arguing the ACA is perfect or even the most desirable option. But doesn’t it seem a bit premature for the federal government to support completely blowing up the act without having any idea what will replace it?

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.