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House fires back at Trump by passing ObamaCare expansion

The House on Monday passed a bill to expand the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as Democrats seek to hammer President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven MORE and Republicans on health care heading into the November elections.

The legislation, which passed in a largely party-line vote of 234 to 179, would increase the 2010 health law’s subsidies that help people afford their premiums and add more federal funding for Medicaid expansion.

Democrats timed the vote to contrast with the Trump administration’s legal brief filed with the Supreme Court last week calling for the ACA to be struck down, a move Democrats said would be even more harmful during the coronavirus pandemic.

“How can it be that at this very moment, when the value of the ACA is so plainly obvious to tens of millions of Americans, the administration is in court trying to strike it down?” said Rep. Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiPhil Murphy says no coronavirus outbreaks in New Jersey linked to Trump fundraiser Marjorie Taylor Greene spars with GOP lawmaker over QAnon, antifa Hillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones MORE (D-N.J.), one of several first-term lawmakers in the House facing competitive reelection races who spoke in favor of the bill.

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“Unlike the president, we are willing to tell the American people now exactly how we plan to improve health care in America,” he added. “We believe that the ACA should be improved, not taken away.”

The measure steers clear of the internal Democratic debate over "Medicare for All" and does not include any kind of government-run health insurance program, often called a “public option.”

The bill is not expected to go anywhere in the GOP-controlled Senate given Republican opposition to the ACA, also known as ObamaCare.

Republicans countered that they were not consulted on the “partisan” bill. 

"Today’s vote is a messaging vote,” said Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyLawmakers offer bipartisan bill to encourage retirement savings On The Money: GOP cool to White House's .6T coronavirus price tag | Company layoffs mount as pandemic heads into fall | Initial jobless claims drop to 837,000 GOP cool to White House's .6T coronavirus price tag MORE (Texas), the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee. “It’s political. Politics should not control how we write health care policy. Instead we should be working on bipartisan provisions that can be signed into law.”

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House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealLawmakers offer bipartisan bill to encourage retirement savings Democrats express concerns about IRS readiness for next year's filing season On The Money: Kudlow confident that Trump can 'round up' Senate GOP behind coronavirus relief deal | US deficit spikes to record .1T MORE (D-Mass.) argued that Republicans did not try for bipartisan health care solutions when they were in control of the House.

“I’ve been here for a long time. Where was this bipartisanship?” he said. “They have not agreed amongst themselves on health care, never mind agreeing with Democrats on health care."

Defending the ACA was a key strategy used by Democrats in 2018, when they won back the House. The party is returning to the same playbook for the 2020 elections as it attempts to win back the White House and Senate as well.

The legislation passed by the House on Monday is paid for with a measure that would allow the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices, which Republicans said would hinder pharmaceutical innovation that's especially needed in the middle of a pandemic.

“Fewer cures during a pandemic. Are you kidding me?” said Rep. Buddy CarterEarl (Buddy) Leroy CarterBipartisan lawmakers call for overhauling medical supply chains The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Justice Barrett joins court; one week until Election Day Overnight Health Care: US sets a new record for average daily coronavirus cases | Meadows on pandemic response: 'We're not going to control it' | Pelosi blasts Trump for not agreeing to testing strategy MORE (R-Ga.). “That's the last thing America needs right now.”

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Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Trump says stimulus deal will happen after election | Holiday spending estimates lowest in four years | Domestic workers saw jobs, hours plummet due to COVID Hoyer lays out ambitious Democratic agenda for 2021, with health care at top CNN won't run pro-Trump ad warning Biden will raise taxes on middle class MORE (D-Calif.) told The Washington Post last week that “health care for all Americans” would be the top policy priority in 2021 if Democrats win the House, Senate and White House.

This bill could provide the foundation of that effort, but the battle over Medicare for All is sure to complicate the Democratic health care push next year, though Democrats are currently side-stepping it in their current measure. 

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska Jeff Daniels narrates new Biden campaign ad for Michigan MORE said in a speech last week, "We need a public option now more than ever.”