Vulnerable red-state democratshave used the Texas lawsuit as a cudgel against their Republicanopponents. (Photo: Shutterstock)

|

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell defended a lawsuit toundo the Affordable Care Act's protection of insurance for pre-existing health conditions even though it'sbecome a problem for Republican candidates inthe campaign for control of Congress.

|

“Our candidates are able to deal with it,” McConnell saidregarding a barrage of Democratic ads criticizing his party'scandidates on the issue. “There's nobody in the Senate that I'mfamiliar with who is not in favor of coverage of pre-existingconditions.”

|

Related: GOP candidates sprinting away from ACArepeal

|

The case, filed by Texas and backed by the Trump administration, contendsthat because Congress eliminated the tax penalty for violating therequirement that most individuals have insurance, the rest of thelaw including the consumer protections must be thrown out. Manylegal scholars see the lawsuit as a long shot, including someconservatives who supported previous suits against Obamacare.

|

During an interview Tuesday with Bloomberg News, McConnell saidhe doesn't think the lawsuit is a mistake.

|

“It's no secret that we preferred to start over” to repeal andreplace Obamacare, he said. That vote failed in 2017. “So no, Idon't fault the administration for trying to give us an opportunityto do this differently and to go in a different direction,” themajority leader said.

|

While Republicans sometimes have accused Democrats of turning tocourts and executive actions when they were unable to get their wayin Congress, McConnell said he didn't see an issue with backing thelawsuit.

'Nothing wrong'

“Nothing wrong with going to court. Americans do it all thetime; we can do it too,” he said.

|

Vulnerable red-state Senate Democrats Joe Manchin of WestVirginia and Claire McCaskill of Missouri have used the lawsuit asa cudgel against their Republican opponents — in each case theattorney general of their state — who signed on to the lawsuit.

|

A recent Manchin ad featured the senator shooting a copy of thelawsuit and accusing Attorney General Patrick Morrisey of wantingto “take away health care from people with pre-existing conditions;he is just dead wrong.” McCaskill has run a series of videotestimonials featuring Missourians who depend on the health-carerules.

|

Other Democrats like Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly, FloridaSenator Bill Nelson and Montana Senator Jon Tester are similarlyusing the GOP's support for the Texas lawsuit against theirRepublican rivals in competitive races.

|

Republican candidates argue that Obamacare isn't necessary toprotect pre-existing health conditions, although they have yet toagree on an alternate plan to preserve those provisions. GOP-backedbills in the House and Senate would open the door to lettinginsurers charge higher rates to sick people or provide fewerbenefits.

|

The clash comes down to a difference between Democrats andRepublicans about what it means to cover pre-existing conditions.Democrats believe insurers should have to cover a minimum set ofbenefits without price discrimination based on medical history,while many Republicans want to relax those rules as a way to reducepremiums for healthier people.

|

Several Republican senators have criticized the Texas lawsuit,including Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska andLamar Alexander of Tennessee, chairman of the health committee.Alexander backed legislation that would restore some protectionsfor pre-existing conditions if the lawsuit is successful, butCollins declined to back it, saying it didn't go far enough to saveprovisions in the Affordable Care Act.

|

Catch up on the latest ACAdevelopments:

Copyright 2018 Bloomberg. All rightsreserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten,or redistributed.

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to BenefitsPRO, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical BenefitsPRO information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and BenefitsPRO.com events
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com
NOT FOR REPRINT

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.