House vote to expand Obamacare doomed, but makes political statement
Ron Kind: COVID-19 pandemic makes affordable health care more important than ever
WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKBT) — The first major expansion of the Affordable Care Act since its enactment a decade ago is doomed, but Democrats insist that just passing it on Monday was politically significant.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act, passed 234-179 in a vote that hewed mostly to partly lines, aims to lower healthcare costs, protect patients with preexisting conditions, expand Medicaid and lower prescription drug prices.
Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, who voted for the bill, said “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it has never been more important for Wisconsin families to have quality, affordable health care. We should be expanding health care coverage right now, not trying to take it away.”
The vote came on the heels of a lawsuit the Trump Administration filed last week to try again to overturn the ACA, commonly called Obamacare.
Dismantling Obamacare would result in the loss of health insurance for 224,000 Wisconsinites, threaten vital access to Medicare and raise drug prices, said Kind, who serves on the Health Subcommittee for the House Ways and Means Committee.
However, shortly after the debate began, the White House announced that President Donald Trump would veto the legislation if it reaches his desk. Chances of that seem bleak, with Senate Republican opposition to the measure almost ensures its doom.
Political implications abound in the legislation, less than five months before presidential and congressional elections. Observers say it forced Republicans to go on the record about the ACA, which has become more popular in recent years.
It also reinforced the parties’ ideological differences on health care — an issue that consistently polls a top issue for Americans.
The vote allowed House Democrats to proclaim they are striving to make health insurance and treatment more accessible right when the deadly novel coronavirus has strained the U.S. health system. The jobs the pandemic has cost also has deprived millions of Americans of health benefits.
Republicans denounced their Democratic colleagues as authors of a failed law who advocate tax increases.
The proposal would add to some of Obamacare’s central elements and pressure more than a dozen states that rejected Medication expansion to embrace it. It also aims to restore some of the impact the Trump administration has rolled back.
The bill would boost affordability subsidies and cover more middle-class families. For the first time, nobody would have to pay more than 8.5 percent of their income for a benchmark silver plan in the ACA marketplaces, and many Americans could see their premiums cut in half or more, such as:
• A family of four earning $40,000 would save nearly $1,600 in premiums a year.
• A 64-year-old earning $57,420 would save more than $8,700 in premiums a year.
• Premiums would be cut in half for single adults with income of $31,900.
• Premiums for an adult earning $19,140 would drop to noting saving $800 a year.
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