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EDITORIAL: Democrats are anti-choice when it comes to health insurance options

Democrats expect major gains in the November balloting — which historically would be typical for the opposition party in an off-year election — but some obstacles remain. The Trump economy, after all, is booming, and the Senate electoral map forces them to play defense. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen how voters outside the far-left base will react as more Democrats cozy up with their socialist comrades.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, however, has a plan. He’s hatched a scheme intended to flush out Senate Republicans for their opposition to Obamacare.

Good luck with that.

Last week, the Trump administration issued a regulation allowing health insurers to offer low-cost, bare-bones policies for those who can’t afford the soaring premium costs on the Obamacare exchanges. The policies would be exempt from the cost and coverage diktats mandated under Obamacare — for instance, a male wouldn’t be forced to buy a policy that covered breast-cancer screening.

“These plans aren’t for everyone,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said, “but they can provide a much more affordable option for millions of the forgotten men and women left out by the current system.”

Sen. Schumer is beside himself, however, because the plans allow insurers to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions — although those who buy the coverage can lock in rates for three years regardless of problems that crop up after they’ve bought the policy. He seeks to use the Congressional Review Act to force a Senate vote on repealing the regulation in hopes of creating an election issue Democrats can use against vulnerable Republicans such as Nevada’s Dean Heller.

But why should Republicans be embarrassed about supporting public policy that creates more health care options for consumers? They shouldn’t.

Democrats argue that the cheaper, more convenient options will lure more people from the exchanges, driving up costs for those who remain. But Obamacare premiums continue to soar because the rules and regulations were imposed without regard to economic or actuarial reality. While its supporters like to blame Donald Trump and the GOP for “sabotaging” Obamacare, it was imploding long before the current president took office.

In fact, the cheaper plans could potentially further reduce the uninsured population and allow buyers to tailor policies that fit their needs and budgets. The Trump administration move expands the health care marketplace, creating additional consumer options. Democrats call themselves “pro-choice” but now agitate for restrictions on choice when it comes to insurance alternatives.

Sen. Heller and his fellow Republicans should welcome the debate.

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