U.S. Senator Jon Tester joined other congressional Democrats this week in rebuking the Trump administration's latest attempt to overturn the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.
The Senate resolution signed by Tester and 46 other Democratic and Independent senators is a direct repreminad of the U.S. Department of Justice’s request last week for the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act, or ACA.
In a Facebook town hall meeting Tuesday, Tester said efforts to dismantle the ACA during the novel coronavirus pandemic are "irresponsible and cruel."
"So instead of advocating to strip away a program that is the last lifeboat for so many Americans and so many Montanans, folks in Washington need to be coming together on solutions on how to make it better, how to make it more affordable, how to make health care more accessible," Tester said.
The Affordable Care Act is the federal law that led to the expansion of Medicaid in Montana, which gives health coverage to just under eight percent of the state’s population.
The law remains politically divisive nationally and in Montana.
The Republican members of Montana’s congressional delegation, Senator Steve Daines and Congressman Greg Gianforte, have previously supported repeal and replacement of the ACA.
In a prepared statement, a Daines spokesperson wrote the ACA has been disastrous for the Treasure State, and the senator supports "whatever mechanism will protect Montanans from this failed law." Daines is seeking a second term this year.
Gianforte has said he does not support the repeal of Montana’s Medicaid expansion program, but he is concerned about how to pay for it. The ACA provides 90 percent of the money to cover the costs and Montana pays the other 10 percent.
A spokesperson for Gianforte wrote in a prepared statement that he supports a legislative fix for what he called “our broken health care system.” Gianforte is running for governor this year.
Both Gianforte and Daines’ statements called for reducing health care costs and protecting people with pre-existing conditions.
Joining a challenge to the ACA by a coalition of Republican attorneys general, the Trump administration’s recent Supreme Court brief states Congress rendered the law unconstitutional when it zeroed out the tax penalty for not becoming insured, known as the individual mandate.
The administration argues that other core ACA provisions are therefore invalid.
A recent federal report found nearly half a million Americans enrolled under the ACA after losing health care coverage in April and May.
Enrollment in Montana’s Medicaid expansion program rose in May, the first such increase the health coverage program for low income adults has seen more than a year.