The Senate might be about to confirm a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) chief who is opposed to the Affordable Care Act essential health benefits (EHB) coverage mandate, and to the idea that all major medical policies should cover maternity and newborn care.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., made that observation today on the Senate floor, during a discussion about whether the Senate should clear the way for debate on the nomination of Alex Azar II to be the next HHS secretary.
Azar is a former pharmaceutical executive.
Members of the Senate ended up voting 54-43 to adopt a “cloture motion,” or time limit on debate about the nomination. The Senate is preparing to begin final consideration of the Azar nomination around 2:15 p.m.
Most Republicans who voted backed the cloture motion, and most Democrats who voted opposed it.
Five Democrats, and one independent who normally votes with the Democrats, crossed party lines to support cloture.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., cast the only Republican vote against cloture.
Stabenow, who voted against the cloture motion and said she strongly opposes the Azar nomination, said that, when she questioned Azar, he appeared to be vague about whether he supports either the Affordable Care Act EHB benefits mandate or a federal requirement that health insurance cover maternity and newborn expenses. Affordable Care Act EHB Mandate
Drafters of the Affordable Care Act developed the EHB package in an effort to ensure that all individual and fully insured small-group major medical coverage sold provides solid coverage, and in an effort to help consumers and others comparable major medical coverage on an apples-to-apples basis.