Democrats Move to Bolster Obamacare
Health Care

Democrats Move to Bolster Obamacare

REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

A day after the Trump administration announced that it now wants the Affordable Care Act to be overturned, House Democrats introduced new legislation to shore up the 2010 health care law.

Assembled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and several committee chairs, the legislative package focuses on incremental changes to strengthen the existing health care law. Here are some of the things it would do:

  • Effectively cancel the Trump administration’s expansion of cheaper, short-term health care plans by requiring them to comply with the comprehensive standards of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Expand coverage to include families who are now ineligible because one family member has access to affordable employer-based health care, even though family coverage is unaffordable.
  • Expand tax credits for lower-income families.
  • Expand eligibility for more middle-class households.
  • Create a national reinsurance program designed to limit premium increases.

One thing the legislative package doesn’t do is move toward Medicare for All, which is still an unsettled issue among Democrats. “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has sounded skeptical notes about single-payer and urged Democrats to focus on strengthening Obamacare, their winning message in the midterms, so this new bill doesn’t come as a surprise,” Vox’s Dylan Scott says. The incremental approach may offer political advantages, and Democrats plan to vote on the package in pieces to force Republicans to vote repeatedly on what could be popular proposals to improve the health care system.

Nevertheless, more liberal lawmakers will continue to press for the creation of a single-payer system. House Democrats plan to hold hearings this year on various options, and the Congressional Budget Office is expected to weigh in on how such a system might be designed and how much it would cost.