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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images.

President Trump issued an executive order on Thursday pledging to protect Americans with preexisting conditions — which is not only toothless but also is only necessary if a Trump-backed lawsuit successfully dismantles the Affordable Care Act.

Why it matters: The presidential election is a month and a half away, and Republicans learned the hard way in 2018 that threatening the ACA's preexisting conditions protections is politically perilous.

  • But the executive order is yet another example of Trump's political gaslighting on the subject.
  • Executive orders such as this one "don’t have legal effect. They’re just internal memos with a fancy header. That’s all they are," tweeted Nick Bagley, a law professor at the University of Michigan.
  • Republicans have never come up with another way to offer the same level of protection the ACA does. If Trump succeeds in stripping the ACA's protections away, people with preexisting conditions would have every reason to worry about their coverage.

Trump also said that he'll be sending $200 prescription drug coupons to millions of Medicare beneficiaries "in the coming weeks," which STAT describes as a "nakedly political ploy to curry favor with seniors who view drug prices as a priority."

  • A White House spokesman told STAT that the money required to send these coupons would come from the savings generated by Trump's proposal to tie what the U.S. pays for drugs to what other countries pay — which is far from being actual policy.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
Nov 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump allies brace for 30-day legal war

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

GOP leaders and confidants of President Trump tell Axios his legal fight to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory — which they admit is likely doomed — could last a month or more, possibly pushing the 2020 political wars toward Christmastime.

Why it matters: Most top Republicans have followed Trump’s orders not to accept the Biden victory, and to allow all legal options to be exhausted. That could mean weeks of drama — and, more importantly, distractions from the vital work of transitioning government for a change of power.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

HRW: Over 100 former Afghan security members dead or missing under Taliban rule

Members of the Taliban movement patrol Kabul's airport in September. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

The Taliban have "killed or forcibly disappeared" over 100 former members of Afghanistan's security forces since the group took power in August, a Human Rights Watch report published Tuesday found.

Why it matters: Former military members and officials from the ousted government, activists and other Taliban critics are facing peril amid executions driven by revenge — despite Taliban promises of an "amnesty" with no retributions, notes the New York Times, which first reported the news.

5 hours ago - World

Barbados becomes a republic, replacing U.K. queen with president

Combination images of Dame Sandra Mason, president of Barbados, and Britain's Prince Charles at her swearing-in ceremony in Bridgetown, Barbados, late Monday.

Barbados officially became a republic at midnight local time after Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as the Caribbean nation's first president in a ceremony attended by the United Kingdom's Prince Charles.

Why it matters: Mason replaced Britain's Queen Elizabeth as head of state Tuesday — removing the country's final remaining colonial tie to the U.K. almost 400 years after the first British ships arrived in Barbados.