When President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice announced this week that it agreed with a federal court ruling the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA) should be invalidated, congressional Democrats saw not just a challenge, but an opportunity.
While a long legal battle still awaits Republicans and the Trump administration, many Michigan lawmakers already have been outspoken about their desire to protect and strengthen the ACA’s provisions — particularly those protecting access to coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) released a statement Tuesday supporting new legislation that would “make health care more affordable and protect individuals with pre-existing medical conditions” by expanding tax credits and limiting insurance companies’ ability to withhold coverage from such people, along with their ability to sell “junk” plans with insufficient coverage.
“I’m fighting for people with pre-existing conditions, those that rely on Healthy Michigan Medicaid expansion, and seniors that need affordable prescription drugs,” Kildee wrote in a press release.
While the legislation is unlikely to become law, thanks to Republicans in charge of the U.S. Senate and executive branch, the renewed push to expand access to health care is a welcome topic change for many Democrats looking to refocus on domestic issues after the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump administration.
“It’s fair to say we’re going to have a stronger emphasis on the issues that moved us into the majority,” Kildee told Bloomberg Tuesday. “I’ve always felt the emphasis should be on kitchen-table economic issues.”
U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) and Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) also released statements opposing the Trump DOJ’s decision regarding the ACA, otherwise known as Obamacare.
“Trump and his DOJ support stripping healthcare from more than 30 million Americans — and going back to the dark days of denying people care because of ‘pre-existing conditions,’” Tlaib said. “It’s a clear message from this corrupt administration that Trump and the GOP believe millions should lose their care, suffer, and die, all to line the pockets of their health insurance industry friends,” she added pointedly.
Dingell is a member of the House Energy Subcommittee on Health.
“Almost every day, I am stopped by someone who is scared, worried, and concerned,” Dingell wrote. “Instead of moving backwards, we must strengthen the Affordable Care Act and expand access to healthcare for every American.”
Dingell and Tlaib were both co-sponsors of the Medicare for All Act of 2019, introduced last month by U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.). Dingell’s late husband, former U.S. Rep. John Dingell, introduced a bill that would establish a single-payer health care system at the beginning of every Congress for 59 years, as his father, U.S. Rep. John Dingell Sr., did before that, beginning in 1933.
U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) chimed in on Twitter, as well, voicing her opposition to the Trump administration’s decision.
The Trump Administration has made it harder for American families to access and sign up for affordable coverage. Democrats want to restore critical outreach funding to #ProtectOurCare. pic.twitter.com/4PvkGMElhm
— Brenda Lawrence (@RepLawrence) March 26, 2019
The Democratic National Committee issued a statement highlighting improvements for Michigan since the ACA was enacted, including at least 618,000 residents gaining coverage and almost 700,000 enrolling in Medicaid — the vast majority of which were newly eligible under the ACA’s expansion of the program.