Senate Democrats are pushing a vote on health care as early as Wednesday, seeking to overturn the Trump administration’s approval of shorter-term, skimpier coverage.
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Health care is a key issue in the approaching midterm elections as costs mount, and the move is seen as a way to emphasize that Republicans are support plans that do not need to cover pre-existing conditions.
In a tweet sent out on Wednesday, the senior Democratic senator from Hawaii, Brian Schatz, said, “Today is the day that every Senator will be on the record about junk insurance plans…”
In a separate post he added that those shorter-term plans would not cover “whatever they decide is unprofitable or too expensive.”
In August, President Trump issued a final ruling allowing insurers to sell short-term, limited-duration health plans on the insurance markets as soon as this year. The revamped short-term plans can provide coverage for a maximum duration of 36 months, but do not need to cover things like pre-existing conditions or people who have them.
The administration said it expects 1.6 million people to take advantage of the new offerings by 2022 and has framed them as a cost-effective option for those burdened by rising health care costs. The White House said the plans will be 50 percent to 80 percent cheaper than ObamaCare plans.
Meanwhile, as midterm elections approach next month, health care has emerged as a top issue for contenders. Nearly half of Democrats mentioned health care in their ads in the run-up to the election, according to The Wall Street Journal, which analyzed data from Kantar Media/CMAG. However, very few Republicans did so – a staunch reversal from prior years when conservatives ran on a platform of overturning the Affordable Care Act. While Republicans fell short of fully repealing the Affordable Care Act during President Trump’s first two years in office, Democrats are seeking to frame the majority party’s other actions as depriving some Americans of quality care.
Democrats can use the Congressional Review Act this week to initiate a vote with support from only 30 senators.
The Trump administration’s decision to expand short-term plans will be challenged in a U.S. District Court later this month.
The White House also expanded the ability of businesses to use Association Health Plans in June, making it easier for small businesses to join together and buy health insurance while claiming the same federal exemption from insurance regulation enjoyed by large businesses.