Dems blast Trump rule changes on ObamaCare

Dems blast Trump rule changes on ObamaCare
© Greg Nash

Democrats are blasting the Trump administration for loosening ObamaCare rules governing the waivers that states can use to avoid requirements under the health-care law, arguing it shows that the GOP does not actually want to protect people with pre-existing conditions.

The new rules, announced Monday, in one example could allow states to use ObamaCare subsidies to help people buy skimpier, cheaper “short-term” health insurance plans, rather than full ObamaCare plans.

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Because these short-term plans can reject people with pre-existing conditions or charge them more, Democrats said the new rules are making it easier for states to undermine those protections.

“Just weeks before the election, Republicans are once again undermining protections for people with pre-existing conditions and sabotaging our health care system,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis Schumer2020 Republicans accuse Schumer of snubbing legislation Schumer: Leadership trying to work out competing surprise medical bill measures Top GOP senator: Drug pricing action unlikely before end of year MORE (N.Y.) said in a statement Monday.

Vulnerable Republicans across the country have been scrambling to say that they support pre-existing condition protections to try to fend off a potent line of Democratic attack, but Schumer and other Democrats argued Monday that the new rules undermined those claims.

“The American people should look at what Republicans are doing, rather than what they’re saying, when it comes to health care,” Schumer said.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee added that every Republican Senate candidate “should be forced to answer for this.”

Republicans countered that the new rules are just opening up cheaper options that would be available alongside the more comprehensive ObamaCare plans, which would remain for those who want them.

“None of the new flexibility will change any of the protections around people with pre-existing conditions,” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said.

Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul Overnight Energy: Mark Ruffalo pushes Congress on 'forever chemicals' | Lawmakers spar over actor's testimony | House Dems unveil renewable energy tax plan | Funding for conservation program passes Senate hurdle Schumer: Leadership trying to work out competing surprise medical bill measures MORE (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Health Committee, said the new rules give states “a better tool to help lower Obamacare health insurance premiums.”

Some health experts warn, though, that opening up skimpier, cheaper plans risks siphoning off healthy people away from the comprehensive ObamaCare plans, raising premiums for the people who remain in ObamaCare coverage.