Senate Democrats to force vote on Trump health care moves

Senate Democrats will force a vote to block the Trump administration from allowing states to make changes to their ObamaCare markets.

Under the Congressional Review Act, the Senate can overrule and block some actions taken by government agencies.


While it’s unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate, it gives Democrats another opportunity to hit the GOP on health care and protections for pre-existing conditions ahead of the 2020 elections.

“Everyone says they want to protect people with pre-existing conditions,” Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerDemocrats seize on Trump's firing of intelligence community watchdog Trump fires intelligence community watchdog who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Hillicon Valley: Thousands of Zoom recordings exposed online | Google shares location data to counter virus | Dem senator pushes jobless benefits for gig workers | Twitter takes down 20,000 fake accounts MORE (D-Va.) told reporters at a press conference Wednesday.

“This is a chance for Republicans, on a simple up or down vote … to see where they stand.”

Guidance issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) allows states to waive some requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

That could lead to states offering ObamaCare subsidies for plans that don’t meet ObamaCare’s requirements and that don’t cover people with pre-existing conditions.

This could drive healthier, younger customers away from the ObamaCare markets, raising premiums for those who remain, health experts say.

“This would further erode the ACA’s health insurance marketplaces and split the health insurance marketplace into two: one market for young and healthy people, the second for older individuals and those who have pre-existing conditions,” said Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenWho should be the Democratic vice presidential candidate? McConnell sets Friday night deadline for bipartisan deal on stimulus American citizen released from Lebanese prison, returning to US MORE (D-N.H.).

“We know that this would drive up costs for comprehensive coverage and leave many with pre-existing conditions with no other affordable options.”

So far, no states have applied for these waivers to offer less comprehensive plans.

Instead, states have sought waivers to strengthen their ObamaCare markets, creating programs that help insurers pay down expensive claims for people with pre-existing conditions.

While Democrats running for president are focusing on "Medicare for All," Democrats in the Senate have tried to tie Republicans to the Trump administration’s attempts to “sabotage” ObamaCare.

The vote will give Democrats defending their seats in 2020 something to point to, and the opportunity to put vulnerable Republicans in the hot seat.

Sens. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden struggles to stay in the spotlight Democratic super PAC targets McSally over coronavirus response McSally calls on WHO director to step down MORE (R-Ariz.), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerGOP senator calls for investigation into 'mismanagement' of strategic ventilators Romney says he tested negative for coronavirus, will remain in quarantine Senate GOP super PAC books more than million in fall ads MORE (R-Colo.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP senators begin informal talks on new coronavirus stimulus GOP presses for swift Ratcliffe confirmation to intel post Campaigns pivot toward health awareness as races sidelined by coronavirus MORE (R-Maine) are all top Democratic targets next year, according to The Cook Political Report.

Collins voted with Democrats on a similar resolution in October that would block the administration’s rule expanding access to short-term health plans that don’t meet ObamaCare requirements.

The Democrats' messaging on pre-existing conditions was successful in 2018, when House Democrats won back the majority. 

The Democrats hope to win back the Senate in 2020, but face a tough election map.