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This Week in the War on Health Care: Repeal Defeat Anniversary Edition

By July 26, 2018No Comments

One year ago, health care repeal was defeated. It was defeated because of the individuals across the country, from Alaska to Maine, who went to town halls and parades and protests to make their voices heard. It was defeated because of the numerous people with different backgrounds, from children with pre-existing conditions to seniors with disabilities, who traveled thousands of miles to the U.S. Capitol to make sure their representatives would listen to them. It was defeated because of the never-ending work done by everyday Americans who refused to let their care be taken away. And today, the health care fight is as urgent and energized as ever.

Health care is a top issue for voters, who are overwhelmingly backing Democrats on the issue:

Washington Post: Health Care Among Top Issues Motivating Voters, A “Clear Advantage” For Democrats. “Three months from the midterm elections, health care remains a gaping political vulnerability for the GOP… Recent polls have shown that health care is one of the top issues motivating voters, alongside jobs and the economy. A Washington Post-Schar School poll in July found that Democrats have a clear advantage among those voters who cite health care as their most important issue, and a Pew Foundation poll in June found that voters trust Democrats over Republicans on the issue by a 16-point margin.” [Washington Post, 7/25/18]

Kaiser Family Foundation: Protecting People With Pre-Existing Conditions Top Health Care Priority, Public Overwhelmingly Opposes Supreme Court Overturning Them. “A candidate’s position on continuing protections for people with pre-existing health conditions is the top health care campaign issue for voters, among a list of issues provided. This issue cuts across voter demographics with most Democratic voters (74 percent), independent voters (64 percent), and voters living in battleground areas (61 percent), as well as half of Republican voters (49 percent) saying a candidate’s position on continued protections for pre-existing health conditions is either the single most important factor or a very important factor in their 2018 vote. When it comes to the Supreme Court and possible future court cases, once again, continued protections for people with pre-existing conditions weighs heavy on the minds of the public. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) do not want to see the Supreme Court overturn these protections.” [KFF, 7/25/18]

Forbes: Pre-Existing Condition Poll “Another Sign Of Mounting Political Problems For Republicans.” “By a 2-to-1 margin, U.S. voters disapprove of the U.S. Justice Department’s decision to support a lawsuit that would eliminate popular protections for patients with preexisting conditions under the Affordable Care Act, a new poll shows. The survey of likely voters by Hart Research Associates is another sign of mounting political problems for Republicans heading into the November mid-term elections, putting GOP candidates on the defensive for the Trump DOJ’s decision not to defend one of the most popular features of the ACA.” [Forbes, 6/24/18]

It’s a centerpiece of the Supreme Court fight:

Vox: The Fate Of The ACA Could Turn On Judge Kavanaugh’s Appointment. “The fate of the Affordable Care Act may hinge on the appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court — as Democrats have rightly been pointing out. But supporters of the health care law, if anything, underestimate the dangers to the law posed by conservative legal challenges and a rightward shift on the Court. Aspects of Kavanaugh’s jurisprudence as it relates to health care, especially his views about executive power, raise concerns that deserve more attention than they have been given so far —particularly because the president and his agencies have been using their powers to sabotage the ACA for more than a year. One highly politicized challenge to the ACA coming out of Texas has indeed received a lot of attention: It turns on the question of whether the entire health care law should be struck down now that Congress has eliminated the ACA’s penalty for failing to comply with the so-called ‘individual mandate’ to buy health insurance under the law. But the ACA is under attack on multiple legal fronts; anyone concerned needs to focus on more than just Texas. Taken together, these challenges threaten to end the ACA’s essential protections, including a minimum level of care for all and guaranteed access to quality health care regardless of preexisting conditions.” [Vox, 7/23/18]

Washington Post: Brett Kavanaugh Could Take An Ax To Obamacare. Kavanaugh is a polarizing figure in the health-care debate. Among the things that distinguish him from the other finalists on Trump’s list is his expansive view of executive power — he argued that a president could decline to enforce a statute such as Obamacare even if a court upholds its constitutionality — and his dissent in a 2011 case in which others on his appellate court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act… In the long run, Kavanaugh could shape jurisprudence for decades on abortion, gay rights, voting rights, money in politics, guns, presidential authority and more. But his most immediate impact could be on health care.” [Washington Post, 7/9/18]

USA Today: Brett Kavanaugh Could Deal Death Blow To Obamacare. “With the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, President Donald Trump has now engaged all three branches of government in his fight to get rid of the Affordable Care Act and protections for people with pre-existing health conditions. Kavanaugh made clear last year in a speech at the Heritage Foundation that he thinks the court was wrong to uphold the ACA’s insurance mandate as constitutional. He has also said a president should be allowed to not enforce components of a law if he personally deems it unconstitutional (encouragement this president doesn’t need). There couldn’t be a more in-your-face threat to the ACA than from a Justice Kavanaugh.” [USA Today, 7/14/18]

It’s a driving force behind campaigns from coast to coast:

USA Today: Democratic Candidates Running On Health Care After GOP Attempts To Repeal Obamacare. “In one online ad, Democratic House candidate Angie Craig of Minnesota blasts GOP Rep. Jason Lewis for voting ‘to dramatically increase the cost of insurance and kick millions off health care.’ Rep. Jacky Rosen, a Democratic Senate candidate from Nevada, in another ad, highlights Sen. Dean Heller’s pledge to oppose a Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, before ultimately backing the effort under pressure from President Trump. And Democratic House candidate Antonio Delgado of New York has an ad that points to GOP Rep. John Faso’s vote for repealing the ACA, known as Obamacare, after promising a woman with a brain tumor on video that he would not take away her health care… After years of playing defense on health care, Democratic candidates have made it a top issue this election cycle.” [USA Today, 5/2/18]

Seattle Times: “Her Experience [Over Repeal] Led Her To Do Something She’d Never Dreamed Of: Run For Congress.” “Last spring, Issaquah pediatrician Kim Schrier joined three other Virginia Mason doctors for a meeting with an aide to U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn. On their minds: a Republican health-care bill aimed at dismantling the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. At Reichert’s Issaquah district office, Schrier and her colleagues argued against the GOP plan, pointing to estimates it would chop health-care access for tens of thousands of people in the 8th Congressional District… Within a week or so, Reichert voted to pass the health-care overhaul out of the House Ways and Means Committee. He later voted against the final version, but only after it was clear Republicans had enough votes to pass it without him. Her experience with Reichert led Schrier to do something she’d never dreamed of: run for Congress against a seven-term incumbent.” [Seattle Times, 7/26/18]

  • Kim Schrier, “If Congress Was Doing Its Job, I Would Not Have To Run For Office.” “‘I was ticked off. Frankly, if Congress was doing its job, I would not have to run for office. I would be back holding little babies. But times have changed,’ Schrier told volunteers at her campaign headquarters in Issaquah this month.” [Seattle Times, 7/26/18]

Bristol Herald Courier: “The Health Care Discussion Spurred Him Into Action.” “Dr. Marty Olsen was listening to the radio in 2017, when the health care debate was raging across the country. The discussion centered on repealing the Affordable Care Act. He had been contemplating what he could do to help take the country in a different direction. The health care discussion spurred him into action. ‘I recognized that my congressman was a physician who was going to vote to move 22 million people off their health care rolls, and these were the people I take care of,’ he said, referring to U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, a retired physician. ‘I said, ‘Well, that’s wrong.’ And so, I just thought, ‘If you think it’s wrong, then go do something.’’ So the 59-year-old obstetrician/gynecologist decided to throw his hat in the race for the 1st District U.S. House seat.” [Bristol Herald Courier, 7/24/18]

And it’s not going away anytime soon:

Washington Post: Why Health Care Is Making Republicans’ Challenge In November Even Harder. “Unlike many issues, with health care, Democrats can make a persuasive argument no matter to whom they are talking. To their own base, they can say, ‘Republicans tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act and take away Medicaid from millions, and now they want to do even more to take away health security.’ And to swing voters, they can say, ‘Look what Republicans have done to you. Your premiums keep going up, your out-of pocket costs keep going up, and now the Trump administration even wants to take away protections for people with preexisting conditions. They said they’d fix everything, and they failed.’ Both arguments are correct. And in October, premium rates for 2019 will be announced, leading to a wave of stories about rising health-care costs.” [Washington Post, 7/19/18]