Schumer presses McConnell to dedicate August to bringing down health-care costs

Schumer presses McConnell to dedicate August to bringing down health-care costs
© Greg Nash

Senate Democrats are pushing Republicans to use the new time they have because of the cancellation of the August recess, announced by Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnell15 senators miss votes despite McConnell's criticism of absentees Overnight Health Care: Azar defends approach on drug rebates | Trump presses Senate to act quickly on opioid crisis | Kentucky governor's Medicaid lawsuit tossed Dem senator introduces proposal to rein in Trump on security clearances MORE (R-Ky.) this week, to talk about rising health-care costs ahead of the midterms.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerWith lives at stake, Congress must start acting on health care To make the House of Representatives work again, make it bigger Reforms can stop members of Congress from using their public office for private gain MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a letter to McConnell released Wednesday that the GOP leader should dedicate August to "considering legislation that would lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs."

"President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump threatens ex-intel official's clearance, citing comments on CNN Protesters topple Confederate monument on UNC campus Man wanted for threatening to shoot Trump spotted in Maryland MORE promised the American people health care that is 'far less expensive and far better.' Unfortunately, today the situation is far worse," Schumer wrote. 


The bills Schumer said he wants action on are ones most Republicans would not support, like one that would incentivize states to expand Medicaid.

Democrats are pushing to pin blame on Republicans for rising health-care costs ahead of the November midterms, in which the GOP is defending its majority in both chambers.

Specifically, Democrats plan to emphasize Republicans' repeated attempts to repeal ObamaCare, and the Trump administration's changes to the health-care law.

"After 18 months of trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and deliberately sabotaging our health care system, Republican policies have resulted in major premium increases for millions of Americans," Schumer wrote to McConnell.

"This sabotage also has those with pre-existing conditions once again facing the prospect of denied coverage, increased costs, and medical bankruptcy."

Schumer also highlighted Democratic-sponsored bills that would expand ObamaCare's tax credits, allow Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies and allow more people to access Medicare before they reach age 65. 

"Americans are ready for the president and Congressional Republicans to stop making the problem worse and instead work in a bipartisan manner to improve our country’s health care system," Schumer wrote. 

"We believe this previously unscheduled session time can be put to good use to finally help Americans secure the affordable health care the president and Congressional Republicans have thus far failed to deliver." 

McConnell announced Tuesday that he would cancel most of the August recess, allowing him to keep vulnerable Democrats off the campaign trails months before the midterms.

McConnell said that working three weeks in August was necessary because of "historic obstruction" by Democrats, saying the Senate needs to catch up on confirming Trump's nominees and funding the government.