DSCC - Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

07/13/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/13/2020 07:35

New York Times: “Health Care Takes Center Stage” in Battle for the Senate During Pandemic

July 13, 2020 Press Releases

'The Fight Over Health Care Is Being Waged… in All of the Competitive Senate Races' As Democratic Challengers Press Their Advantage On a Critical Issue for Voters

As coronavirus infections continue to surge in states across the country, a new report from the New York Times finds that health care is taking 'center stage ' in the battle for control of the Senate - and that's bad news for every Republican who's on the ballot in less than four months. GOP senators have voted to tear down protections for pre-existing conditions coverage, eliminate benefits like maternity care, and gut Medicaid expansion funding, and then enabled a lawsuit that would take away health care access from millions. This is a major concern for voters on an issue where they consistently trust Democrats over the GOP, and where Senate Republicans can't run from their toxic records.

New York Times: Health Care Takes Center Stage in Battle for Congress During Pandemic
As the Trump administration pushes forward on dismantling the Affordable Care Act, Democrats are pressing their advantage on an issue that is becoming a chief focus of campaign advertising.

By Carl Hulse and Emily Cochrane
July 12, 2020

Key Points:

  • In his two newest campaign advertisements, Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana portrays himself as a health care savior, featuring local nurses who say his expansion of public health insurance rescued Montanans and their hospitals.
  • Its salience has been amplified by the pandemic and accompanying job losses that have left millions of Americans anxious about their own health and ability to pay medical bills. And the contrast between Republicans and Democrats could not be starker than it has been in recent weeks, as the Trump administration pushed forward with its lawsuit calling on the Supreme Court to jettison the Affordable Care Act once and for all, and House Democrats countered by passing a bill to expand it.
  • The fight over health care is being waged at the presidential level, in all of the competitive Senate races and in House contests across the country. Democrats intend to press what they see as their advantage over Republicans, who for years have called for dismantling the health care law - voting to repeal it and supporting President Trump's legal efforts to overturn it - while failing to offer an alternative plan.
  • Democrats are eager to replay their winning strategy of 2018, when they won control of the House by emphasizing that Republicans were threatening to strip away protections for pre-existing health conditions and leave sick Americans on their own.
  • Democrats and their allies say they do not believe that any action before November by Senate Republicans will be enough to neutralize the issue, given the party's extensive history of trying to overturn the health care law without putting forth any alternative. They point to recent polls that show Democrats are far more trusted on health care than congressional Republicans or Mr. Trump.
  • On Thursday, Majority Forward, a group aligned with Democrats, began part of a $3 million ad campaign in Georgia accusing Senator David Perdue, the Republican incumbent, of siding with insurance companies over beneficiaries, 'even during a pandemic.' The group began a similar seven-figure effort in Colorado against Senator Cory Gardner, the endangered Republican incumbent.
  • In one of his first ads after securing the Democratic Senate nomination to oppose Mr. Gardner, John Hickenlooper, the former Colorado governor, called it 'lunacy' that the Trump administration would press a lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act during a pandemic.
  • Democrats say voter anxiety about health care has been exacerbated by the Trump administration's decision to again ask the Supreme Court to take the health care law off the books. The administration filed an extensive brief making its case in late June, joining Republican officials from 18 states in calling for action that could eliminate coverage for as many as 23 million Americans.
  • 'Health care is a major issue for voters and a liability for every Senate Republican on the ballot,' said Lauren Passalacqua, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. She noted that Republican leaders were 'in court right now trying to tear down health care access in the middle of a pandemic. It's reckless and out of touch, and we'll make sure voters have the facts in November.'
  • Other Republicans are leery of the lawsuit's timing but reluctant to oppose it given the longstanding opposition to the health care law among conservative voters, for whom calls for repeal of the Affordable Care Act have become dogma.
  • 'In 2018, health care helped cost them the House,' said Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist who specializes in health care policy. 'Since then, they've added a dash of lawsuit and poured it over a bed of coronavirus - all of which made it even worse for them.'
  • Seeing the issue as a winner, Democrats say they welcome attempts by Mr. Daines and other Republicans to push the health care debate to the forefront.