Schumer: Dems will be ‘relentless’ in attacking GOP for premium hikes
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that Democrats are going to be “relentless” in attacking Republicans for looming ObamaCare premium hikes as Democrats seek to harness the issue for the midterm elections.
Schumer pointed to proposals that have been released in recent days showing double-digit premium increases for next year, with insurers citing the GOP repeal of ObamaCare’s individual mandate among the factors driving up premiums.
Democrats think they can now go on the offensive as they try to blame Republicans for premium increases, something Republicans in previous years pinned on Democrats.
“We Democrats are going to be relentless in making sure the American people exactly understand who is to blame for the rates,” Schumer said at a press conference to highlight the rate increases.
“Republicans control the House, the Senate, the presidency,” he added. “The rates go up, especially after all their actions, it’s on their back and they know it.”
Insurers have said that repeal of the mandate that people must have insurance or face a tax penalty takes healthier people out of the pool of enrollees, driving up premiums for the sicker group remaining.
Insurers are also concerned about new administrative actions from the Trump administration to open up cheaper, skimpier health insurance plans, noting they could also siphon away healthier people.
Republicans counter that repeal of the mandate removed a burdensome requirement on low-income people to buy insurance that they often could not afford.
“They’ll no longer be forced into that,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) when asked about Democratic attacks on mandate repeal.
“And so it really is we’re seeing more the true costs of a terribly flawed ObamaCare health system that’s still in place, and so I continue to urge the Senate Republicans to unite and find a way to repeal ObamaCare and really replace it with more affordable, patient-centered health care,” he added.
Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), meanwhile, argues that rate increases would have been far lower if Democrats had not blocked his ObamaCare stabilization bill earlier this year.
Democrats counter that Republicans left the table and insisted on abortion restrictions in the bill, among other complaints.
Schumer stressed Tuesday his argument that it is Republican actions, not the underlying Affordable Care Act, leading to this year’s premium hikes.
“It was not [the Affordable Care Act] making these premiums go up,” Schumer said. “It was rather Republican efforts to do so.”
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