Dems unveil plan to build up ObamaCare as Trump steps up attacks

House Democrats rolled out a proposal Tuesday to build up ObamaCare just one day after the Trump administration told a court that the entire law should be struck down.

It was another opportunity for Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), to corner Republicans on the issue of health care. They say the issue cost the GOP the House majority in the midterms. 

Democrats say the ObamaCare changes are needed to reverse the Trump administration’s “sabotage” of the health care law.

{mosads}But the move also comes after the Department of Justice (DOJ) stepped up its attacks on the law by asking an appeals court to declare it unconstitutional, siding with a lower court’s ruling issued in December. The DOJ initially said only the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be struck down.

“The Justice Department and the Trump administration decided not only to destroy protections for pre-existing conditions but to tear down every last benefit and protection the ACA has,” Pelosi said at a press conference Tuesday.

“The GOP will never stop trying to destroy health care,” she added 

The House plans to vote on the bill this year, positioning it as a follow-through on campaign promises to defend ObamaCare.

Democrats have tied Republicans to the lawsuit, arguing that it shows GOP lawmakers don’t support protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

“All during the campaign, Republicans candidates and incumbents said they support pre-existing conditions benefits despite voting over and over and over again to repeal it,” Pelosi said.

“And we said, if you support it, why don’t you disassociate yourself from the lawsuit? … There’s an inconsistency, if not a hypocrisy, here. Why would you mislead the American people like that?” she continued.

The Democratic bill would expand ObamaCare’s tax credits that help people pay for coverage to more middle-income families and individuals and increase the size of the credits for everyone.

The measure aims to reduce premiums by helping insurance companies pay the claims of high-cost patients. 

It would block insurance companies from selling non-ObamaCare plans expanded by the Trump administration, called “junk plans” by Democrats, that are cheaper but cover fewer benefits.

And it would block the administration from approving requests from states looking to water down ObamaCare’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions and its 10 requirements for what insurance companies must cover, such as maternity care and substance abuse treatment. 

A federal judge in December ruled the law unconstitutional, siding with the 20 Republican-led states that filed suit against the federal government. 

The states argue that since Congress repealed ObamaCare’s penalty for not having insurance, the entire law can no longer stand.

Because the DOJ declined to defend the law in court, Democratic-led states have mounted a defense and are appealing the ruling.

The proposal also comes as the progressive side of the caucus pushes for a broader conversation about “Medicare for all,” an idea that’s supported by most of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. 

But Democratic leadership has tried to keep the progressives on message, arguing that Congress instead needs to defend ObamaCare from Republicans and the Trump administration.

Pelosi repeatedly praised the more moderate freshman Democrats who worked on the bills to boost ObamaCare, such as Reps. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) and Angie Craig (D-Minn.) 

“I want to thank our freshmen. They are coming to the Congress with fresh ideas on how to make things better and are very closely connected to their constituents and fresh from the trenches,” she said.

Tags Nancy Pelosi ObamaCare Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

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