Wesleyan Media Project: “In the period between September 18 and October 15, nearly half (45.9%) of airings in federal races mentioned the topic while nearly a third (30.2%) of gubernatorial airings did the same. Although both parties are mentioning health care, the topic is most prominent in ads supporting Democrats, appearing in 54.5% of pro-Democratic airings.”
Los Angeles Times: “The shift reflects the growing popularity of Obamacare and Democrats’ success in using the issue to make a compelling closing argument in the midterm races. A handful of Republican lawmakers and candidates, including Costa Mesa Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and Missouri Senate hopeful Josh Hawley, have filmed ads about their children’s medical conditions — the kinds of health problems that without Obamacare’s protections would make insurance coverage unaffordable. Others have made promises in videos and debates.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told Reuters that Republicans could try again to repeal Obamacare if they win enough seats in U.S. elections next month, calling a failed 2017 push to repeal the healthcare law a “disappointment.”
Said McConnell: “If we had the votes to completely start over, we’d do it. But that depends on what happens in a couple weeks… We’re not satisfied with the way Obamacare is working.”
Caitlin Owens: “With the midterm elections fast approaching and Democrats riding a clear advantage on health care, many Republicans are nevertheless doubling down on largely unpopular ideas like repealing the Affordable Care Act and cutting Medicare.”
“This strategy may seem counterintuitive on its face. However, it likely reveals that the party has all but abandoned independent voters this year and instead is focused on turning out its base.”
Sam Baker: “Democrats are serious about making health care the centerpiece of their midterm election strategy. Every day brings new ads, press statements and other election-season positioning — from moderates and progressives alike — that slams Republicans over threats to the Affordable Care Act.”
“Democrats’ health care strategy is well-established, so every new example of it isn’t newsworthy. But it’s still worth stepping back to appreciate just how quickly Democrats have gone back on offense on health care, after so many years of seeing mainly Republican ads about the issue.”
Jonathan Chait: “Lots of things have happened since Obamacare was passed. Most importantly, the conservative movement launched a hysterical political and legal sabotage campaign, using every tool from concocting frivolous lawsuits to driving insurance firms out of the markets by eliminating the outreach budget and withholding promised reimbursements. That sabotage campaign is still ongoing.”
“It would be extremely reasonable for a liberal who favors Obama-Romney-style subsidized private insurance to conclude that market-based insurance is simply too vulnerable to right-wing sabotage, and the only safe path for covering people who can’t afford their own insurance is through public programs. One of the things conservatives have been completely oblivious to is the degree to which their manic uncompromising stance has strengthened the case for more left-wing health-care reforms within the Democratic Party while undermining the basis for more moderate ones.”
James Hohmann: “Democrats are pummeling Republican candidates for governor and Senate over a pending lawsuit by 20 GOP-led states that could allow insurance companies to stop covering people with preexisting medical conditions. Underscoring how the politics of Obamacare have changed — even in red states — this issue is being highlighted more than any other right now in Democratic television commercials. Public and private polling validates that it’s an effective line of attack.”
“Arizona’s new senator says he’d vote to repeal the nation’s health care law. That’s one additional Republican ready to obliterate the statute because his predecessor, the late Sen. John McCain, helped derail the party’s drive with his fabled thumbs-down vote last year,” the AP reports.
“It could well be too little, too late.”
“After years of trying to demolish former President Barack Obama’s prized law, GOP leaders still lack the votes to succeed. Along with the law’s growing popularity and easing premium increases, that’s left top Republicans showing no appetite to quickly refight the repeal battle.”
First Read: “Another political cycle, another fight over health care — but this time with a twist. Unlike in 2010, 2014 and even in 2016, Democrats are no longer playing defense on the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, with less than two months before Election Day.”
In a new ad, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) shoots a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act that’s backed by his opponent, playing off his well-known 2010 spot shooting a climate change bill.
“A Republican-led lawsuit seeking to nullify Obamacare will be spotlighted in court in the final months of congressional election campaigns, giving Democrats political fodder and sending GOP candidates in competitive races looking for cover,” Bloomberg reports.
“The Trump administration’s Justice Department has taken the unusual step of siding with Texas — instead of defending the federal law — in the states’ bid to persuade a judge that various aspects of the Affordable Care Act should be tossed out, including protecting people with pre-existing medical conditions.”
“The arguments come at a difficult time for Republicans as they try to defend their control of the House and Senate in the November elections while many Democrats make health care a central issue in their campaigns.”
“Senate Republicans say they would like Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) to appoint a successor to late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) who, unlike McCain, would support GOP legislation to repeal Obamacare,” The Hill reports.
“GOP lawmakers say they won’t have time to hold another vote to repeal the law in 2018 but vow to try again next year if they manage to keep their Senate and House majorities.”
A new Fox News poll finds the Affordable Care Act is more popular than the new Republican tax law.
The 2010 health-care law registered a 51% approval rating, compared with 40% for the 2017 Republican tax cuts.
Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) told the Washington Examiner that he believes Republican lawmakers made a “big mistake” by pushing to repeal the Affordable Care Act as their first big legislative move at the outset of the Trump administration.
Said Heller: “I don’t think we should have done it first. I think we should have done the economy first. We needed to get some wins. We should have done transportation and the economy first, and then done healthcare after. I think you would have seen a very different result on healthcare.”
Caitlin Owens: “Many Republicans assume their party will take another stab at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act if the midterm elections go their way, even though GOP candidates aren’t making a big deal about it on the campaign trail.”
Said one GOP operative: “Repeal is like fight club. First rule is not to talk about it.”
Jonathan Chait: “It may be difficult to believe that, after a devastating failure that registered historically ruinous approval in public opinion surveys, Republicans would try the same thing again with a presumably narrower House majority. But such an outcome may be more plausible than you might think.”
The Department of Health and Human Services “has quietly dipped into tens of millions of dollars to pay for the consequences of President Trump’s border policy, angering advocates who want the money spent on medical research, rural health programs and other priorities,” Politico reports.
“The ballooning costs have also prompted officials to prepare to shift more than $200 million from other HHS accounts, even as the White House weighs a request for additional funding for the Department of Homeland Security — a politically explosive move almost certain to antagonize fiscal hawks in the run-up to the midterm elections.”
“Democrats are centering their campaign to retake Congress and defeat President Trump’s Supreme Court pick on a staunch defense of the Affordable Care Act, the landmark health-care law that Republicans used to wipe away their majorities in the last two midterm elections,” the Washington Post reports.
“The strategy marks a dramatic turnabout from the previous two midterms when many Democrats avoided defending Obamacare, and illustrates the extent to which the law has taken root as millions of Americans have come to depend on it. Republicans, who relentlessly attacked Democrats for supporting the ACA in 2010 and 2014, are now largely steering their campaigns toward different topics.”