Democrats aim to expand health care law as Trump fights to eliminate it


New legislation was introduced days before the White House files arguments with the Supreme Court to get rid of the Affordable Care Act.

House Democrats introduced legislation on Wednesday to expand access to health care and lower the cost of prescription drugs.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act was unveiled just days before the Trump administration is scheduled to file a brief with the Supreme Court arguing to eliminate the Affordable Care Act.

The House legislation would lower the cost of health insurance by expanding access to subsidies, allowing more Americans to purchase health insurance from the ACA exchange, an Energy and Commerce committee fact sheet stated. A family of four earning $40,000 per year would save more than $1,500 under the proposal.

To address the rising cost of prescription drugs, the bill would empower Medicare to negotiate drug prices and then allow Americans on private insurance to share in the savings.

The bill also provides incentives to expand Medicaid for states that have not done so. According to the sponsors of the bill, more than 2 million uninsured Americans could get health insurance through Medicaid if every state embraced the expansion allowed under the ACA.

The legislation would also reverse efforts by the Trump administration to expand access to so-called "junk insurance" plans that are not required to protect people with preexisting conditions.

The bill was introduced by Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr., chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee; Richard Neal, chair of the Ways and Means Committee; and Bobby Scott, chair of the Education and Labor Committee.

"It is telling that in the middle of a public health emergency, House Democrats are proposing to strengthen and enhance the Affordable Care Act, while the Trump Administration is asking the Supreme Court to rip health coverage away from millions of Americans," Scott said in a press release this week.

Scott was referring to the Trump administration’s support of a lawsuit filed by 18 Republican state attorneys general and two GOP governors to eliminate the landmark 2010 health care law.

Trump reiterated his desire to get rid of the law earlier this year, telling reporters on May 6, "We want to terminate health care under Obamacare."

The administration is expected to file a legal brief to the Supreme Court on Friday, laying out its argument to overturn the law, the New York Times reported on Monday.

If Trump and Republicans are successful, more than 23 million Americans would lose access to health insurance, according to analysis released Wednesday by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

A victory for Trump would mean protections for those with preexisting conditions would be eliminated. The ACA prevents health insurance companies from denying insurance to people with preexisting conditions and prevents companies from charging people with preexisting conditions more for their coverage.

The ACA provision that allows young people to remain on their parents’ health insurance until age 26 would also be eliminated.

Democrats have tried multiple times to expand health care access since taking back the House in January 2019, including passing bills to lower the cost of prescription drugs and protect people with preexisting conditions.

Those bills are now stalled in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.