- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A Wisconsin senator announced a long-shot resolution Wednesday to kill President Trump’s main off-ramp for customers unhappy with Obamacare, hoping to force Congress to vote to overturn his plan to allow people to buy cheaper, skimpier insurance.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, one of several Democrats facing re-election in a state President Trump won, said she will use the Congressional Review Act to try to revoke the administration’s move this month to approve the skimpy plans.

She said Americans will end up with plans that don’t cover their needs and may end up socking them with higher costs depending on their health, should Congress not act. She also said allowing healthy people to pay for cheaper plans outside of Obamacare will mean older, sicker customers will have to pay more.

“They are moving forward on an expansion of junk insurance plans that can deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and don’t have to cover essential services like prescription drugs, emergency room visits and maternity care,” she said.

The administration says its Aug. 1 move to allow people to buy yearlong plans outside of Obamacare’s strict standards will give people affordable options, rather than forcing them to pay for coverage they don’t want and that stretches their wallets.

Winning a vote on the Congressional Review Act is going to be tough.

Ms. Baldwin has enough backing to force a vote in the Senate, yet even if she picked off enough Republicans to pass it through her chamber, it still would need majority support from the GOP-led House and Mr. Trump’s signature.

The measure does, however, keep alive a key issue for Democrats heading into November’s midterm elections — how to protect people who are suffering from cancer, diabetes and other pre-existing conditions and struggled to afford coverage before Obamacare required insurers to insure them and charge them the same price as healthy people.

Republicans are wary of voters’ anger.

Ten GOP senators announced a bill last week that would try to enshrine certain Obamacare protections for people with pre-existing conditions. They wanted to be ready if a state-driven lawsuit, filed in Texas, manages to overturn most of the health law.

Ms. Baldwin’s effort, meanwhile, is picking up backing from Obamacare’s supporters, including the lobbying arm of the American Cancer Society, which blasted the skimpy plans.

“We urge Congress to support this resolution and take immediate action to protect patients and the insurance market. If they fail to act, we encourage states to pass state laws restricting or prohibiting these potentially damaging products,” said Chris Hansen, president of the ACS Cancer Action Network.

But Ms. Baldwin’s opponent in November, Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir, slammed the senator for trying to overturn the administration’s new rule.

The senator “arrogantly” thinks she “knows better than Wisconsinites about which health insurance plan they should buy, calling their decisions ‘junk,’” said Vukmir campaign manager Jess Ward. “Leah Vukmir will fight to give Americans more choices in health care because she believes the people know best, not the government.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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