Congress

Obamacare fight continues on House floor — again

The largely symbolic resolution condemns the administration for calling on courts to overturn the ACA

President Donald Trump stands alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, left, and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., before the Senate Republican policy lunches in the Capitol on March 26. The event took place a day after his administration issued a court filing arguing the entire 2010 health care law should be overturned. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House on Wednesday plans to vote on a largely symbolic resolution condemning the Trump administration for calling on the courts to overturn the 2010 health care law, escalating a messaging war that seems poised to continue through the 2020 elections.

The vote is the Democrats’ latest rebuke of the Trump administration’s stance on the lawsuit brought by Texas and other conservative state attorneys general to overturn the health care law. The House became a party to the law’s defense earlier this year.

“This is not an issues fight or a legislative fight; it’s a values fight for our country,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said Tuesday. “That we value the health and well-being of the American people and we recognize that their financial stability is related to their health stability.”

Republicans on Capitol Hill have struggled over the past week to chart their next steps on health care after the administration expanded its position in the lawsuit by calling on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to strike down the law in full, rather than in part. President Donald Trump conceded earlier this week that a vote on overhauling the law wouldn’t happen until after next year’s election.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday that he’d told Trump the Senate would not consider a comprehensive health overhaul during this Congress.

“I pointed out to him the Senate Republicans’ view on dealing with comprehensive health care reform with a Democratic House of Representatives,” the Kentucky Republican said, adding that he’s “fine” with Republican efforts to lower drug prices. “I made it clear to him we aren’t going to be doing that in the Senate.”

Of course, it’s possible the Supreme Court could weigh in on the lawsuit before the 2020 election, although Republicans have said they have time to wait for the courts to consider the legal challenge. Legal experts on both sides of the aisle have largely said they don’t expect the Supreme Court to strike down the entire law.

“It’s going to be a long time before it gets to the Supreme Court, and there’s plenty of time to deal with it if it goes to that next step,” said Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt.

Trump’s comments, which came via his Twitter feed late Monday, confirmed health care will play a significant role on the campaign trail over the next two years. Some Republicans, including those up for re-election, appeared open to pushing back a health care debate until after the election.

“I certainly am not going to wait for the president to come up with his proposal when I’m running for re-election in Texas in 2020,” said Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn. “Just like the Democrats tried to scare people on pre-existing [condition protections] in 2018 with some success, this is going to be part of the campaign, part of the debate, whether anybody likes it or not.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally and co-author of a GOP bill to transform the health care system, said he expects Trump will put forward a plan to campaign on, and said the party should coalesce behind its own ideas on health care.

“We need to show the public, not only why Medicare for All is a bad idea, why Obamacare is failing, but what would be a better solution,” the South Carolina Republican said.

Republicans debating the House resolution Tuesday said any GOP health care plan would protect coverage of pre-existing conditions, which is part of the 2010 law. The 2017 House Republican health care bill would have allowed states to let insurers charge higher premiums to people with preexisting health conditions.

“If the court strikes down the Affordable Care Act, Republicans will protect those with pre-existing conditions,” Ways and Means Committee ranking member Republican Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas said on the House floor. “We’ll work to make health care more affordable, guaranteeing that folks can see local doctors or go to their local hospitals, and we’ll preserve other important provisions, such as no lifetime limits and allowing kids to stay on their parent’s plans until age 26.”

Watch: What if we switch to a single-payer health care system?

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