Senate Democrats are warning older adults, a key voting bloc, of the potential damage Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett could do to Social Security, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act.
Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon told reporters Monday that Judge Barrett’s confirmation to the high court before justices hear a Nov. 10 case about the health care law’s individual mandate would be alarming for older adults.
The Democrats pointed out that the president’s nominee refused to answer questions during her confirmation hearing last week about if Medicare and Social Security are constitutional programs.
“Seniors will lose the free preventive services they rely on,” Mr. Brown said, suggesting if the Affordable Care Act — unofficially known as Obamacare — were overturned, older adults would not be able to easily obtain blood pressure screenings or mammograms.
“They can find time to jam through a special interest Supreme Court nominee who in the midst of a pandemic, will undoubtedly take away health insurance,” Mr. Brown said, referring to Senate Republicans.
Mr. Wyden said seniors also would lose savings on medications that Obamacare provides.
One of the major issues during last week’s hearings was an article Judge Barrett wrote critical of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s decision in 2012 upholding the Affordable Care Act as a tax.
Republicans, though, have said her opinion at the time was academic, as she was a law professor at the University of Notre Dame.
They argue Democrats can’t assume she would vote against the law in the Nov. 10 case since it deals with a different legal issue related to the health care law.
“We should be protecting preexisting conditions and expanding competition, expanding options, and lowering premiums. This body will continue to debate that. But Judge Barrett will not be the decision maker on what the appropriate approach to health care is as a policy matter,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, during last week’s hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Democrats have made health care an issue ahead of the Nov. 3 elections, and recent reports suggest older adults, who supported President Trump in 2016, have moved away from him this election year out of concern over Medicare and Social Security funding.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Judge Barrett wasn’t mum only on the constitutionality of those programs, but also wouldn’t discuss if climate change is real, if voter intimidation is illegal, if a president can unilaterally change the date of an election, or if Congress is empowered to protect the right to vote.
“She answered nothing, nothing of substance,” the New York Democrat said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell defended Judge Barrett’s performance at the confirmation hearings, saying she displayed her intellect and judicial temperament.
“Virtually none of the politicians, pundits or special interests who opposed Judge Barrett from the beginning have even tried to lay a finger on her qualifications or credentials,” he said Monday on the chamber floor.
The Kentucky Republican said he will bring her confirmation up for a vote shortly after the Judiciary Committee votes on her nomination. That vote is scheduled for Thursday.
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