Democratic leaders are putting Obamacare at the center of their biggest campaign battles, arguing Republicans are trying to defeat the health law by confirming a new Supreme Court justice and re-electing President Donald Trump.
Democrats are betting the Affordable Care Act is popular enough to turn opinions against Republicans, who are on track to confirm a replacement for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg this year, and to buttress their message that Trump has bungled the response to the spread of Covid-19.
House Democrats Wednesday showcased how the ACA has helped extend insurance to more Americans this year. The party’s allies are launching health-focused ad campaigns attacking Republicans who said they will vote on a new justice this year.
“People aren’t going to forget the fact that at the Supreme Court major decisions have been decided by a single vote,” Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) told reporters Wednesday. “That definitely gets the attention of many people who care about having the ability to make the medical decisions over their lives.”
Republicans are arguing that Obamacare remains unaffordable for many and that Congress should be focused on issues like surprise medical billing where some members of both parties have found common ground. They’re hoping to paint Democrats as ineffective in governing and solving pocketbook issues, like the rising cost of health care.
“We have worked together on a lot of issues and there’s a lot we could do moving forward,” Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said. “It’s unfortunate.”
The Democratic-aligned group Protect Our Care Wednesday launched an ad campaign aimed at painting Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) as complicit in efforts to overturn the ACA via a court challenge slated to reach the Supreme Court just after the November elections. The ads will play in each senator’s state, Leslie Dach, chair of the group, said.
“Health care is the number one issue that people care about,” Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) told reporters last week.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which Bustos leads, recently released ads attacking the health-care records of Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), and Ann Wagner (R-Mo.).
Part of this campaign is a push by Democratic committee leaders to highlight the gains in insurance coverage made under the ACA.
The number of Americans without insurance coverage didn’t spike dramatically when millions lost their jobs earlier this year largely because the ACA created a safety net for them, Benjamin Sommers, a professor of health care economics at Harvard, told the House Energy and Commerce Committee Wednesday. Insurance losses in recent years have been largest in states that didn’t expand Medicaid or fund programs to advertise open enrollment periods, he said.
The primary factor driving down the uninsured rate has been how easy it is to sign up for coverage, Sommers said.
“We have to be doing everything we can to get people access to health insurance and health care,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Ruoff in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org