A group of House Republicans, several in tough re-election races this fall, introduced a resolution on Tuesday calling for pre-existing conditions to be protected amid scathing attacks from Democrats that the GOP is endangering the protections with its efforts to repeal Obamacare.
The “sense of the House” resolution was introduced Tuesday by Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, and 18 other lawmakers. The resolution discusses the need to protect pre-existing condition protections, but is not legislation.
The resolution says that any replacement of Obamacare should let states get “broad authority to reform their individual health insurance markets.” It also says, though, that any reform must ensure that individuals with pre-existing conditions get lower premiums, lower out-of-pocket costs, and accessibility to in-network providers.
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Democrats have slammed Republicans this election cycle for their attempts to repeal Obamacare last year and, with it, protections for people with pre-existing conditions. They have also criticized the Trump administration’s decision earlier this year not to defend Obamacare in court against a lawsuit from Texas and 19 other states.
The lawsuit said that all of Obamacare must be found unconstitutional because of the repeal of the individual mandate financial penalty starting in 2019. While the Justice Department supports the lawsuit, it asked the court to only strike down pre-existing condition protections, and not the entire law.
Senate Republicans have gone a step further than Sessions’ resolution. A group of 10 Republican senators introduced a bill earlier this summer to preserve protections for pre-existing conditions if they are struck down by the Texas lawsuit.
However, several experts said that the bill wouldn’t stop an insurer from denying coverage for treatments. So under the bill, a person with a pre-existing condition like cancer could still get a health plan but their treatment for cancer wouldn’t be covered.
Some of the lawmakers who signed Sessions’ resolution are in tough re-election races in the midterm elections.
GOP Reps. Leonard Lance of New Jersey, John Faso of New York, and Mike Bishop of Michigan are all in races rated by the Cook Political Report as a toss-up. Sessions’ race is also listed as a toss-up.
Another lawmaker who signed on — Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. — is challenging Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. Heitkamp has cited her support for Obamacare and pre-existing conditions as a key plank of her campaign.
This is the second resolution from the House attempting to show that Republicans favor protections for pre-existing conditions. Rep. David Young, R-Iowa, introduced a similar resolution last month. Cook also rates his race as a toss-up.