FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 23, 2020
New York Times: G.O.P. Faces Risk From Push to Repeal Health Law During Pandemic
By: Sheryl Gay Stolberg
Republicans are increasingly worried that their decade-long push to repeal the Affordable Care Act will hurt them in the November elections, as coronavirus cases spike around the country and millions of Americans who have lost jobs during the pandemic lose their health coverage as well.
The issue will come into sharp focus this week, when the White House is expected to file legal briefs asking the Supreme Court to put an end to the program, popularly known as Obamacare.
“Politically, it’s pretty dumb to be talking about how we need to repeal Obamacare in the middle of a pandemic,” said Joel White, a Republican strategist who specializes in health policy and has presented legislative proposals to House and Senate Republicans and the White House.
Health care is consistently near the top of the list of issues voters care about. While Republicans and President Trump tend to have an edge on the economy, Democrats won the House in 2018 in large part by emphasizing health care — a playbook they intend to revive in 2020. The pandemic has also put Republicans at risk of losing the Senate, said Jessica Taylor, who analyzes Senate races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
There are a lot of factors that have put the Senate into play, but the pandemic and how it has affected health care and the economy is a major one that have made these races competitive,” Ms. Taylor said.
In Montana, Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, jumped into the race to defeat the Republican incumbent, Senator Steve Daines, in March, just as the pandemic was exploding. Three days later, a liberal group, Protect Our Care, announced a $250,000 ad campaign attacking Mr. Daines as “dead set on taking away Montanans’ health care” after voting five times to repeal the health law. Cook Political moved the race to its tossup column last week.
The public has been deeply divided over the Affordable Care Act since it became law in March 2010, according to surveys by the Kaiser Family Foundation. But with people now worried that infection with Covid-19 will become a pre-existing condition, Democrats say the health law — which requires insurers to cover such conditions — is becoming more attractive to voters.
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