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.”
“A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly,” the New York Times reports.
“Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother’s milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.”
“Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations.”
“Democrats have spent more than Republicans on Obamacare ads this cycle, a major shift from every other election since the health care law passed,” HuffPost reports.
“Pro-Obamacare spending was significantly higher for the month of June, accounting for a major reason Democrats closed the gap: Last month, there were nearly $4 million in pro-Obamacare ads, compared with $1.1 million on the other side.”
Jonathan Swan: “Democrats plan to make health care the central issue in their fight to oppose whomever Trump picks to replace Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court.”
“Democrats believe these arguments will resonate with voters whom polls show are already worried about their health care under Republican leadership. Democrats also think they’ll resonate with the swing vote senators needed to confirm Kennedy’s replacement — many of whom support abortion rights and voted against Trump’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.”
A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner when it allowed Kentucky to become the first state in the nation to require that low-income people work or otherwise engage in their communities to qualify for Medicaid, the Washington Post reports.
New York Times: “The ruling in the Kentucky case is the first on this issue, but it will almost certainly not be the last; the question may wind up before a more conservative Supreme Court with two Trump appointees. Three other states have already gotten permission from the Trump administration to impose work requirements, and seven more have asked for clearance to do so.”
Bloomberg Businessweek: “For the first time since it became law in 2010, Obamacare is a political asset for Democrats heading into an election—a striking turn after several cycles in which the law’s unpopularity helped Republicans sweep into power in legislative races across the country. Still, Democrats face a challenge: President Trump’s attacks on Obamacare prompted a broad reassessment of its merits and hurt his party’s political standing. To successfully exploit the issue, Democrats have to find a way to cut through the din of Trump news and scandal coverage and convince voters they’ll defend the health-care law from ongoing GOP sabotage and repeal efforts.”
“That will entail digging deep into their own pockets to pay for advertising. Democratic strategists have all but given up on trying to influence Trump-obsessed cable news coverage, even though a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that health care is voters’ top issue, above jobs and the economy, guns, taxes, and immigration.”
“Obamacare premiums are once again poised to spike by double digits in 2019, causing heartburn for politicians as voters will head to the polls within days of learning about the looming hit to their pocketbooks,” Politico reports.
“But unlike recent campaign cycles, when Republicans capitalized on Obamacare sticker shock to help propel them to complete control of Congress and the White House, they’re now likely to be the ones feeling the wrath of voters.”
Politico: “Republicans on Capitol Hill are giving up on what might be their last best chance to overhaul Medicare, just as they’re losing their leading champion on the issue, House Speaker Paul Ryan. The quiet surrender on a subject that’s energized GOP fiscal hawks for the better part of a decade comes as new projections show Medicare’s trust fund in its worst shape since the recession, partly because of Republicans’ other chief obsession: their sweeping tax cuts.”
“That’s left conservatives unsure how to agitate for a politically unpopular Medicare overhaul — one that President Trump detests — and raises new questions about who will take up the entitlement reform mantle as Ryan heads for the exits.”
NBC News: “An array of state and national progressive groups are already laying the groundwork to attack Republicans for the expected premium increases. Democratic candidates are running ads on health care more than any other issue. And Senate Democrats recently announced plans to devote the month of August to a messaging campaign on health care costs.”
“In focus groups and polls, Democrats are honing a message that they say will link health care problems to voter skepticism of private insurers, the Republican tax bill and donor influence on policies.”
“Republicans who have tried to repeal Obamacare for nearly a decade believe the Trump administration is reviving a politically risky battle with a court filing that could eliminate one of the most popular parts of the law: protections for people with pre-existing conditions,” Politico reports.
“The administration wants a federal court to strike the protections, providing fresh fodder to Democrats who argue that the GOP cannot be trusted to protect Americans’ health insurance months ahead of a midterm election in which health care was already a top issue. It also threatens to shift attention away from the GOP’s message on tax cuts, refocusing it on an Obamacare fight most Republicans wanted to put behind them.”
“The Justice Department will not defend the Affordable Care Act in court, and says it believes the law’s individual mandate — the provision the Supreme Court upheld in 2012 — has become unconstitutional,” Axios reports.
“The Justice Department almost always defends federal laws when they’re challenged in court. Its departure from that norm in this case is a major development — career DOJ lawyers removed themselves from the case as the department announced this shift in its position.”
“The ACA’s individual mandate requires most people to buy insurance or pay a tax penalty. The Supreme Court upheld that in 2012 as a valid use of Congress’ taxing power.”