Ana B. Ibarra, Kaiser Health News
The California Democrats who fought to flip Republican congressional seats in 2018 used well being care as their crowbar. The Republicans had simply voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act within the U.S. House — and Democrats didn’t let voters overlook it.
Two years later, Democrats are defending the seven seats they flipped from purple to blue in California. And as soon as once more, they plan to go after their Republican opponents on well being care on this 12 months’s elections.
But this time round, it’s not simply in regards to the Affordable Care Act, whose fate now rests with the federal courts. Democrats are highlighting the excessive prices of prescribed drugs, shock medical payments and cuts to safety-net packages.
Health care “remains the single-biggest priority for most voters in 2020,” mentioned U.S. Rep. Josh Harder, a Democrat who represents California’s 10th congressional district, within the northern San Joaquin Valley, which incorporates the cities of Modesto, Turlock, Tracy and Manteca.
Harder, who defeated Republican Jeff Denham in 2018, made the case then that eliminating the federal well being legislation and its protections for individuals with preexisting conditions would hurt hundreds of individuals in his district, together with his youthful brother, whose untimely start yielded $2 million in hospital payments.
Health care affordability — from drug prices to premiums — continues to be the No. 1 difficulty his constituents increase in conversations with him, he mentioned.
“The problems haven’t been solved,” mentioned Harder, who blamed the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate for stalling on health care legislation addressing prescription and different well being care prices. “A lot of folks out here feel like there’s still an unbelievably long period before they can see a doctor, and they think that the costs are way too high.”
Multiple calls and emails to Republican congressional candidates and the California Republican Party requesting remark weren’t returned. California voters will choose their celebration’s congressional candidates within the Super Tuesday major March three.
Health care is certainly a prime difficulty for voters, confirmed Mollyann Brodie, government director of public opinion and survey analysis for the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Kaiser Health News, which produces California Healthline, is an editorially unbiased program of the muse.)
“What concerns people the most is health care costs and their own affordability of health care,” Brodie mentioned. “And when we asked people what they thought Congress should be working on, prescription drug costs came right on top.”
A nationwide Kaiser Family Foundation monitoring ballot from September 2019 discovered that 81% of Democrats and 62% of Republicans surveyed mentioned decreasing prescription drug prices needs to be a prime precedence for Congress. Voters in each events additionally need Congress to take care of protections for individuals with preexisting circumstances and restrict shock medical payments.
Both Democratic and Republican candidates are taking word and are prone to characteristic well being care prominently of their campaigns, however their messages can be completely different, mentioned Nathan Gonzales, editor and writer of Inside Elections, a marketing campaign evaluation web site.
For instance, progressive Democrats typically advocate for “Medicare for All,” a nationwide well being care program that will cowl everybody within the U.S.
Republicans oppose this concept fervently.
“Republicans will talk about a government takeover of health care, socialism, Democratic efforts to get rid of private health insurance and the cost of Democratic plans,” Gonzales mentioned.
Ted Howze, considered one of three Republicans gunning within the major to interchange Harder, matches this description. He is operating for Congress after “personally struggling with the failure of the health care system,” he mentioned throughout a January debate in Modesto. His first spouse died in 2013 from an undiagnosed coronary heart situation “that could have been treated,” in accordance with his campaign website.
Among his prime three priorities, he mentioned, is making high quality well being care inexpensive for all Americans. But he proposes to take action by means of the personal market, no more government-run packages.
“I will support any plan that covers preexisting conditions and that increases transparency and competition to drive costs down,” he mentioned in the course of the debate.
In not less than one California district, well being care has popped up in marketing campaign promoting.
Twelve candidates are vying for the 25th Congressional District seat, which incorporates parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. The seat was vacated by former U.S. Rep. Katie Hill, a Democrat who resigned in October.
Voters in that district will face a double election on March three: The first is a particular election for the rest of Hill’s time period, which runs by means of the tip of this 12 months. The second is the first for the total 2021-23 congressional time period.
Among the candidates is former U.S. Rep. Steve Knight, the Republican who misplaced his seat to Hill in 2018. After voting to repeal Obamacare in Congress, he introduced a bill that he argued would have protected individuals with preexisting circumstances. His marketing campaign didn’t return a number of calls and emails for remark.
State Assembly member Christy Smith, a Democrat who’s operating for the seat, shared a private story about prescription drug prices in her first television ad.
Smith’s mother, a nurse, “died too young because she couldn’t afford the insulin to treat her diabetes and heart disease,” Smith says within the advert.
“My mom couldn’t afford the medicine and care she needed. I’m running for Congress to make sure you can.”
Another Democratic candidate, Cenk Uygur, co-founder of “The Young Turks,” a progressive YouTube information present, also made health care the subject of his first TV advert. Tens of hundreds of individuals die yearly as a result of they don’t have medical health insurance, he says within the advert. “What if your own child was one of them?”
Democrats might discover extra well being care fodder for his or her campaigns because the 12 months progresses, mentioned Ivy Cargile, an assistant professor of political science at California State University-Bakersfield.
For occasion, she mentioned, on Feb. 10 the Trump administration launched its $four.eight trillion 2020 federal budget proposal, which incorporates deep cuts to Medicaid, the general public medical health insurance program for low-income individuals.
Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, has about 13 million enrollees. “Let’s assume this goes through,” she mentioned. “That’s going to be fresh in the mind of voters going into the general election.”
Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nationwide well being coverage information service. It is an editorially unbiased program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which isn’t affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.