Ending health care suddenly off the agenda for GOP House candidates
A review of the GOP's top-tier House challengers finds little interest in Donald Trump's push to scrap the Affordable Care Act.
Almost none of the top Republican House candidates currently in the running are campaigning on repealing the Affordable Care Act in 2020, even as Donald Trump himself pushes to get rid of the law.
Last week — despite the ongoing pandemic — the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to strike down the 2010 law, commonly known as Obamacare. If the Court agrees, 20 million Americans would likely lose their health coverage.
In previous campaigns, Republicans ran on promises to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. As a candidate himself, Trump promised at least 68 times that he would "terminate" the law and replace it with "something terrific."
Given the new landscape, top 2020 House hopefuls appear to have changed their tactics.
The National Republican Congressional Campaign — the campaign arm of the House Republicans — has identified 21 "Young Guns" candidates who are, according to the committee, the challengers that "represent the most competitive congressional seats in the 2020 election cycle."
A review of the issue pages on the Young Guns' campaign sites found just one candidate — Montana State Auditor Matt Rosendale — openly campaigning on Obamacare repeal.
"We can’t give up on repealing and replacing Obamacare," his site urges. "In June 2019, Montana’s three health insurance companies reduced rates for the first time ever for policies sold on the individual marketplace because of the health care reform efforts led by State Auditor Matt Rosendale. There's still a long way to go and that’s why Matt will continue to work to repeal Obamacare and deliver affordable health care reform that fits your personal needs and budget while always protecting those with pre-existing conditions."
A few other candidates criticize aspects of the law or suggest possible changes to it.
Genevieve Collins, the Republican challenging Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX), for example, complains that Obamacare "has raised the cost of care and eliminated access to doctors of our choosing" and "does not allow patients in the individual market" with preexisting conditions "to go to Treatment Centers of Excellence, like Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas or MD Anderson in Houston."
She proposes, however, that Congress "allow specialty doctors or medical centers to treat patients with chronic diseases in the individual market."
Former Minnesota Lt. Governor Michelle Fischbach, who is seeking her party's nomination against Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), writes that "Obamacare was a disaster that took important health care choices away from millions of Americans."
Without specifics, she promises to "work with President Trump to protect the promises we have made to our seniors and pass patient-centered reforms that increase competition and lower costs, without sacrificing protections for individuals with preexisting conditions."
Protecting those with preexisting conditions is one of the key provisions of the ACA that would be on the chopping block if the law were repealed.
Others, like former Illinois state Rep. Jeanne Ives, the Republican nominee challenging Democratic Rep. Sean Casten, are much more general in their health care promises. Ives' site promises to "protect people with pre-existing conditions, pre-existing doctors and pre-existing health insurance," stating, "You get covered in a way that meets your family’s needs. And you call the shots."
Several candidates promise to oppose Medicare for All or other single-payer or "socialized" approaches. Wesley Hunt, challenging Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX), says he will "protect employer-sponsored health insurance from attempts by the extreme liberals to ban it in favor of a government run, single-payer system."
Six candidates do not appear to have any linked issues pages on their site.
Five of the candidates are former members of Congress who lost their seats in the 2018 blue wave and are now attempting comebacks. Of these, former Reps. Scott Taylor of Virginia, Claudia Tenney of New York, David Valadao of California, and David Young of Iowa each voted to eliminate the Affordable Care Act and replace it with the deeply unpopular Trumpcare proposal.
None of the four makes any mention of that vote.
A May poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 51% of American adults have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act, versus 41% unfavorable.
A June poll by Fox News found a record-high 56% of registered voters like the law.
Still, Trump has vowed to do everything he can to get rid of the law.
"[W]hat we are doing is we want to terminate health care for under Obamacare because it's bad," he told reporters back in May. "And we're replacing it with a great health care at far less money and it includes preexisting conditions."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation. Attribution to Josh Isreal