Senate Democrats push vote to defend Obamacare
Senate Democrats have re-introduced a resolution that would allow the upper chamber’s counsel to intervene in a lawsuit that seeks to throw out Obamacare.
House Democrats voted to pass a similar resolution last week, and a Democratic push to bring a similar motion to the floor last session failed in the Senate under Republican opposition.
The intervention of the counsels won’t have much impact on the case, Texas v. United States, but Democrats are aiming to use the opportunity to highlight GOP opposition, specifically to rules in Obamacare that do not allow insurers to turn sicker customers away or charge them more.
“We are not going to let this issue go away,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said at a press conference Tuesday. “We are going to force Republicans to vote and put them on record.”
Before Obamacare, the practice of turning customers away, denying them coverage related to a specific illness, or charging higher premiums, was commonplace, especially for people who bought health insurance on their own rather than receiving it through an employer. The provision is one of Obamacare’s most popular among voters, even though it has contributed to higher premiums for certain enrollees.
The resolution from Democrats will put Republicans in the difficult position of voting either to defend a law they have vowed to replace or casting a vote that Democrats can then argue demonstrates they were not really committed to the promises they made during the midterm elections to keep in place Obamacare’s protections for pre-existing conditions, which include ailments such as cancer and diabetes.
“If there are any Republicans who truly meant what they said during campaign season, they can show us now,” said Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said Republicans had “no credibility” when they said they believed in the protections.
The Texas case that Democrats want the counsel to intervene on is making its way through the courts. A federal judge issued a ruling in December that not only would undo rules relating to pre-existing conditions, but the rest of Obamacare as well. This would include the expansion of Medicaid to low-income people, no co-pay coverage for preventive care, and reductions in how much Medicare beneficiaries pay for drugs.