Opinion: Given the Republicans’ flip on Supreme Court confirmations, how do we know that Sen. Martha McSally won’t flip on her healthcare promise to protect people with pre-existing conditions?

Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., speaks at a “Latter-day Saints for Trump” campaign event in Mesa, Ariz., on August 11, 2020. (Photo: Michael Chow/The Republic)

So, OK. We now know (as if we didn’t before) that principles are a bendy thing in politics. 

It was, Senate Republicans told us, a bad idea to confirm a Supreme Court justice nominated 11 months before an election when Barack Obama was president.

Until now, suddenly, when it’s a good idea to confirm a Supreme Court justice nominated five weeks before an election when Donald Trump is president.

Cue Arizona’s own Sen. Martha McSally, who either doesn’t see the hypocrisy or just doesn’t care.

“A Supreme Court vacancy has now made this already critical election the most consequential of our lifetime,” she wrote in an email sent Monday to supporters, adding in bold type, “Democrats and the media are already doing everything they can to stop President Trump and the Senate from moving to confirm a new Supreme Court Justice. 

“We have a rare opportunity and it’s crucial that we seize it if we are to solidify the conservative majority on the Supreme Court. We must fill the Supreme Court vacancy now.”

It is, indeed, a rare opportunity.

How often do politicians, just a few weeks out from an election, admit and even celebrate the fact that you can’t trust them?

McSally said she’d fight to protect us

We’ve all long known that politicians lie. But how often do they so grandly demonstrate that pathetic fact, just 41 days before voters decide their fate?

That’s something to think about if you happen to be, say, one of the 2.8 million Arizonans who have a pre-existing health condition. If you are one of the people who now can get health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans have long been trying to kill.

Should that happen, McSally has assured us that she will do everything in her power to protect people whose health histories put insurance out of reach before the ACA became law in 2010.

Repeatedly, she has told us that she’s “fighting for what’s right when it comes to pre-existing conditions and making sure everybody has access to health care.”    

“We must protect preexisting conditions,” she said in March 2019, after the Trump administration called for a full repeal of the ACA.

“Of course, I will always protect those with preexisting conditions,” she said, in a June campaign ad. “Always.”

Except, of course, for when she didn’t.

Yet she tried to repeal the ACA (twice)

McSally, in both the House and the Senate, has supported efforts to repeal the ACA, which created those protections for people with pre-existing health conditions.

In 2015, she voted to repeal the ACA and in 2017 she voted to repeal and replace it with a Republican plan that also prevented insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. But the Republican plan allowed insurance companies to charge higher premiums, something Obamacare prohibited because what’s the good of offering people an insurance policy they can’t afford.

“Let’s get this f**king thing done!” McSally urged her fellow Republicans prior to the vote on the GOP’s American Health Care Act. It didn’t happen, thanks to the senator in whose seat she now sits.

By 2019 — after losing one Senate race and knowing she would again face voters in 2020 after being appointed to the late Sen. John McCain’s seat — McSally co-sponsored a bill that claims to guarantee coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions. But the bill was meaningless because it contained no requirement that the insurance be affordable.

McSally, meanwhile, has remained silent on a lawsuit by Republican attorneys general asking to strike down the ACA – a lawsuit that Trump supports.

One that soon will be in the hands of a Supreme Court newly bolstered with yet another conservative justice.

What can you really believe?

So which is it?

McSally and Republicans have vowed to “repeal and place” the ACA, which is the only national law that guarantees insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions. 

But then Republicans also vowed not to confirm a Supreme Court nominee in an election year.

Until, suddenly, that vow was meaningless. 

In September, McSally and other Republicans assure us that protections for those with pre-existing conditions are paramount.

“Of course, I will always protect those with pre-existing conditions,” McSally says. “Always.”

But what, I wonder, will she and the rest of them be saying in January?

Reach Roberts at [email protected].

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