House Dems Vote to Block Trump Attack on Obamacare

But Mitch McConnell will likely have the president’s back in the Senate.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

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House Democrats voted Thursday to roll back a Trump administration rule that could undermine Obamacare by expanding the duration of short-term health plans—coverage Democrats have nicknamed “junk insurance.” The vote is largely symbolic; the Democratic measure is not expected to pass the GOP-controlled Senate.

Short-term, limited-duration health plans were originally designed as temporary solutions to cover individuals who experienced gaps in coverage for no more than three months. These policies cost less than plans that offer better quality coverage, but they do not comply with the Affordable Care Act’s standards requiring that insurers cover a set list of “essential” health care. Under these short-term plans, insurance companies may deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, and they typically exclude some benefits—such as prescription drugs, maternity care, and mental health care—that are required by Obamacare.

Last year, Trump expanded the duration of these plans to up to three years. As part of the 2017 tax cut bill, Congress eliminated the individual mandate, meaning that individuals will no longer incur a tax penalty if they don’t have Obamacare-compliant health insurance. Democrats fear that these Trump-era changes will lead more healthy individuals to purchase cheap, short-term plans, raising premiums for those still buying insurance through Obamacare’s marketplaces.

The House vote is part of a wider effort among Democrats to confront Trump over his attacks on Obamacare in the run-up to the 2020 elections.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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