GOP Senators Introduce Bill to Preserve ObamaCare’s Pre-Existing Conditions Protections

August 30, 2018

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Source: The Hill

Ten GOP senators this week introduced legislation that they say would protect ObamaCare provisions for people with pre-existing conditions.

The bill, introduced on Thursday, comes as congressional Democrats try to tie Republicans to the Trump administration’s decision not to defend some ObamaCare provisions in a federal lawsuit filed by red states.

The legislation is an effort by the GOP to push back on the Democratic attacks, and it shows the concern among Republicans over the court case ahead of the midterms.

“There are strong opinions on both sides when it comes to how we should overhaul our nation’s broken health care system, but the one thing we can all agree on is that we should protect health care for Americans with pre-existing conditions and ensure they have access to good coverage,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), a main sponsor on the measure. “This legislation is a common-sense solution that guarantees Americans with preexisting conditions will have health care coverage, regardless of how our judicial system rules on the future of Obamacare.”

The lawsuit filed by some Republican states argues that ObamaCare is now unconstitutional because Congress last year repealed the 2010 health-care law’s penalty associated with not having insurance.

The Department of Justice responded, saying most of the law could stand, except for protections for those with pre-existing conditions that prevent insurers from charging them more or denying coverage.

Senate Republicans said their bill would amend federal law to guarantee the availability of health insurance to all Americans, including those with pre-existing conditions, regardless of the outcome in the federal lawsuit.

The legislation also would prevent insurers from increasing premiums due to pre-existing conditions. However, health experts note that the bill would allow insurers to exclude coverage of pre-existing conditions.

“With the uncertainty of the outcome in the upcoming Texas v. United States case, this legislation is needed now more than ever to give Alaskans, and all Americans, the certainty they need that protections for those with pre-existing conditions will remain intact,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). “I’m proud to support a bill that will make sure no one loses coverage.”

The other Republican co-sponsors are: Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Dean Heller (Nev.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Joni Ernst(Iowa), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), John Barrasso (Wyo.) and Roger Wicker(Miss.).

Democrats have tried to tie the lawsuit to congressional Republicans ahead of the midterms as ObamaCare surges in popularity.

Vulnerable Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Manchin(W.Va.) have highlighted the lawsuit in recent ads against their Republican challengers.

Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked an amendment from Manchin that would instruct the Senate legal counsel to intervene in the federal lawsuit and defend ObamaCare.

It would have been a hard vote for Republicans to take ahead of the midterms, as it would put them in the position of going up against the Trump administration’s Department of Justice.

Court hearings for the lawsuit are slated for Sept. 5.

 

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