Democrats push sweeping health bill ahead of 2020 fight
Democrats pressured Senate GOP leaders Wednesday to take up a health care package poised to clear the House, saying mid-term voters rallied around the 2010 health care law and demanded lower drugs costs.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her lieutenants scheduled a Thursday vote on the bill, which would speed cheaper generic drugs to market while killing President Trump’s push to let people buy cheaper, barebones health plans instead of what Obamacare offers.
It would restore funding for Obamacare advertising and enrollment assistance, and help states create their own insurance exchanges instead of relying on the federal site, HealthCare.gov.
In a Capitol Hill pep rally, Mrs. Pelosi and Senate Democrats accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of turning his chamber into a “legislative graveyard” for their proposals.
“No debate, no legislation, no votes,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said. “Is he afraid the Senate might actually pass a bill to help the American people?”
Republican leaders say Democrats are the ones standing in the way of progress.
GOP lawmakers sponsored some of the prescription-drug measures including the CREATES Act, which helps generic drug makers get needed drug samples from brand-name companies, and a separate bill that would block companies from gaming the drug-patient system.
Yet Democrats “spiked” prospects for a bipartisan push and Mr. Trump’s signature by lumping those measures into a package that would reverse the White House’s tweaks to Obamacare, Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans said Wednesday.
Thursday’s vote foreshadows the health care-heavy message Democrats plan to ride into the 2020 campaign. They say it will bear fruit, as Mr. Trump cheers on a state-driven lawsuit that attempts to unwind Obamacare, even though the GOP failed to pass an adequate replacement in 2017.
House Democrats are pressing the Justice Department to explain why it decided to back a lower-court ruling that, if upheld, would scrap President Obama’s program in its entirely, after it took a narrower view of the case last year.
Mr. Trump, meanwhile, insists Republicans can become the “party of health care,” pointing to their work on measures to slash drug prices and end “surprise” medical bills that occur when a person gets services from hospitals and doctors outside of their insurance network.