Dems to force health care vote weeks before Nov. midterms
Senate Democrats on Wednesday plan to force a vote on a health-care measure in an effort to put Republicans on the record against pre-existing condition protections ahead of the midterm elections.
Democrats say the vote will highlight that President Trump and congressional Republicans support the expansion of non-ObamaCare plans which can deny coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, an issue that Democrats have made the centerpiece of their electoral strategy.
The measure appears headed for defeat after Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), a key swing vote, said she would oppose the Democratic measure, with her office noting that while short-term plans are “not ideal” she wants Alaskans to have options for cheaper coverage. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she is undecided, but Democrats would need another Republican vote beyond Collins.
Democrats maintain that even a failed vote will help them bring the issue of pre-existing conditions to the fore ahead of next month’s elections. The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), who is up for reelection this year, and has the support of all 49 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, meaning supporters need two GOP votes to pass it.
“On Wednesday, Senate Republicans get an opportunity to demonstrate independence from Trump and vote against junk insurance plans,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) wrote on Twitter. “Tammy Baldwin’s bill will put them all on the record.”
Democrats have been pounding Republicans in races across the country with ads highlighting GOP ObamaCare repeal votes and the harm they would do to people with pre-existing conditions. Many vulnerable Republicans have sought to blunt the attacks by pledging support in recent ads for ObamaCare’s pre-existing condition protections.
Going on the record, Democrats say, in support of health insurance plans that are able to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions will undercut those GOP claims.
“Republicans are suddenly claiming to support pre-existing condition protections,” Topher Spiro, vice president for health policy at the liberal Center for American Progress, tweeted on Tuesday. “This vote will expose their fraud.”
A particular spotlight will be on Sen. Dean Heller (Nev.), the most vulnerable GOP Senate incumbent, who is expected to vote with Republicans to keep the non-ObamaCare plans in place.