Manchin uses new GOP ObamaCare bill to hit opponent on pre-existing conditions

Manchin uses new GOP ObamaCare bill to hit opponent on pre-existing conditions
© Greg Nash

Democratic Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinThe Memo: Kavanaugh firestorm consumes political world Kavanaugh becomes September surprise for midterm candidates Kavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday MORE (W.Va.) is using a new bill from Senate Republicans to attack his opponent over ObamaCare’s pre-existing condition protections.

Manchin, facing a tough reelection race this year against West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R), is pointing to a new Senate GOP bill that aims to preserve ObamaCare’s pre-existing condition protections as a rebuke to Morrisey’s position in court against those provisions.

On Friday, 10 GOP senators introduced a bill to preserve ObamaCare’s protections against people with pre-existing conditions being denied coverage or charged more, as a backstop in case a GOP-led lawsuit against ObamaCare succeeds.

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Morrisey is one of the 20 state attorneys general supporting the lawsuit against ObamaCare.

“Senate Republicans have finally admitted that this horrendous lawsuit is dangerous for the country and are scrambling to find a fix,” Manchin said in a statement.

The title of his press release read: “Senate Republicans run from AG Morrisey lawsuit to deny coverage to West Virginians with pre-existing conditions.”

"We all agree pre-existing conditions need to be covered and I'm glad to see Congress doing its job to protect those who need it most," Morrisey said in a statement to The Hill.

"It is truly unfortunate that liberal Joe Manchin is playing politics with the health care of West Virginians and continues to obstruct President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE's efforts to repeal and replace the disaster of Obamacare," he added.

Many vulnerable Senate Democrats have put the threat from the GOP anti-ObamaCare lawsuit front and center in their campaigns, saying that ObamaCare’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions need to be preserved.

The Senate GOP bill on Friday could help to blunt those attacks.

Manchin, though, called the bill inadequate and a “weak attempt to disguise” efforts to roll back the protections.

Larry Levitt, a health policy expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said that the bill would still allow insurers to exclude coverage of pre-existing conditions altogether, making the protections in the measure “something of a mirage.”

--This report was updated at 1:48 p.m.