Sen. Elizabeth Warren, together with key figures in President Barack Obama health policy department, is holding a pow-wow on Capitol Hill today, in a desperate attempt to save the Affordable Care Act, also knows as “Obamacare,” from the chopping block.
But while some of the usual suspects, like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer, were front and center for the event, a number of Democrats up for re-election in 2018 were conspicuously absent.
Democratic Sens. Bill Nelson, Joe Donnelly, Claire McCaskill, Jon Tester, Sherrod Brown, Heidi Heitkamp, Bob Casey and Joe Manchin all skipped the presser, where Schumer declared that the incoming Trump Administration was about to “make America sick again” by repealing key elements of the unpopular law.
What do all the absentee Senators have in common? They’re all from states Hillary Clinton lost in the 2016 Presidential election, and they’re all up for re-election in 2018.
Sen. Manchin even refused to meet with President Obama, who will be meeting with Democratic Senators today to help formulate a plan to save his signature achievement. “In good conscience, I can’t do it,” Manchin told MSNBC.
The Affordable Care Act has become less than affordable for most Americans who don’t have employer-provided health insurance. On average, insurance premiums on the Obamacare exchanges have increased 22% in just the last year. In some states, like Arizona, the average premium increase was more than 110%. Deductibles have also skyrocketed under the plan. On the lowest priced exchange options, deductibles hover around $6,000 per individual.
Despite its flaws, Obamacare has expanded health insurance to 20 million Americans, guaranteed coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, and greatly expanded prescription benefits under Medicare.
The law does remain a political hot potato, regardless. It’s likely that letters about Obamacare rate hikes, which went out right before Election Day, had an impact on the election results, particularly in blue collar communities in swing states.
So it’s no surprise that certain key politicians who have to face the same voters just two years from now are opting out of participating in the fight over saving the law.