Senate Democrats led by Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin think they have a new talking point against Republicans on health care ahead of the November midterm elections.
The Democrats are forcing a vote on overturning a new rule allowing short-term health insurance plans that the Trump administration has supported. The measure will likely fail, but it gives Democrats a chance to say their Republican counterparts voted against coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions since some of the short-term plans would exclude them.
“These junk insurance plans can deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions when they need it most,” Baldwin said on the Senate floor Wednesday morning. “The Trump administration has been trying to do what Congress Republicans couldn’t. They have been sabotaging our health care system and rewriting the rules.”
U.S. adults can use the short-term, limited duration plans sold by various insurers when they are between jobs and not receiving health insurance from an employer. The plans are not required to be as comprehensive as more permanent plans governed by the Affordable Care Act.
Senate Health Committee chairman Lamar Alexander immediately responded to Baldwin’s remarks.
“The Urban Institute — not known as being conservative organization — has said that up to 1.7 million Americans will take advantage of President Trump’s short term plans, which was the same as the Obama short-term plan except that under the Trump rule you may do it for as much as three years instead of just one year,” the Tennessee Republican said on the Senate floor Wednesday.
The measure to overturn the rule that lets individuals renew short-term plans for up to three years will probably fail unless Republican senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine join — and it’s “not clear” that they will, reported Politico.
The Senate Democrats’ move is another step in the Democratic Party’s efforts to focus the midterm elections on health care. (RELATED: Michael Bloomberg Takes First Step Toward Democratic Presidential Run In 2020)
“It’s the top of voters’ minds,” Democratic Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee told CNN. “Even after everything that has happened here in Washington — not surprisingly the focus is on pocketbook issues. Not surprisingly rising health care costs are their No. 1 concern — as well as protecting people with pre-existing conditions.”
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer echoed that with a statement on the Senate floor Tuesday.
“Well, now that the Senate has concluded a very divisive debate about the Supreme Court, it’s time to talk about the No. 1 issue to the American people — health care,” the New York Democrat said according to CNN.
Democrats like Arizona senatorial candidate Kyrsten Sinema have hammered their Republican rivals on health care with mixed results during the 2018 election cycle.
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