President Donald Trump’s administration says it opposes a bill the House of Representatives passed Thursday that would expand the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.
“This bill attempts to exploit the coronavirus pandemic to resuscitate tired, partisan proposals that would send hundreds of billions of dollars to insurance companies in order to paper over serious flaws in Obamacare,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement (pdf).
The bill “would pay for this bailout by imposing price controls that undermine the American innovation the entire globe is depending on to deliver the vaccines and therapeutics needed to respond to the coronavirus,” it added.
Advisers to Trump, a Republican, will recommend that he veto the bill if it passes the Senate.
The House passed the legislation 234-179. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.) and Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.) voted yes, while Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) voted no.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the bill would help people access affordable healthcare.
“Access to affordable care is a matter of life and death. That’s so self-evident as we see every day during the COVID-19 crisis, which now has killed more than 125,000 Americans, infecting 2.5 million Americans, and left tens of millions of people without jobs,” she said on the House floor in Washington before the vote.
Democrats contrasted the effort with the administration’s attempts to completely replace Obamacare.
“Today we are going to pass the Patient Protection Act, which unlike the president we are willing to tell the American people now exactly how we plan to improve healthcare in America. We believe that the ACA should be improved, not taken away,” Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) told colleagues.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) argued that Republican lawmakers have created a number of healthcare programs, including the Medicare Advantage program.
“We want people to have access to quality, affordable health care that fits their needs, not Speaker Pelosi’s,” he said.
Brady called on Democrats to bring to the floor a measure that severs the individual mandate, which was deemed unconstitutional by several courts, from Obamacare.
The measure is unlikely to pass the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans. Trump could veto the bill if it passes with a simple majority. Congress can override a veto with a two-thirds supermajority of both chambers.
The vote came just days after the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to strike down Obamacare.
Trump told reporters at the White House last month that “Obamacare is a disaster, but we’ve run it very well.
“And we’ve made it barely acceptable. It was a disaster under President Obama, and it’s very bad healthcare. What we want to do is terminate it and give great healthcare. And we’ll have great healthcare, including preexisting conditions—100 percent preexisting conditions,” he added.