Ron Pollock, the director of Families USA, gave an interview to Vox in which he revealed that Democrats are already gearing up for a fight over the future of Obamacare. With repeal a real possibility after the election of Donald Trump, Pollock has put his plans for retirement on hold to build a new coalition aimed at protecting the law. His goal is to create a political backlash for any attempts to alter the law. From Vox:
We have been working every day since the election to create a new coalition, called the Coalition to Keep America Covered. We believe this will be a multi-year campaign. That may sound a little odd, but here’s why: If the Republicans succeed and pass repeal and even a replace bill in early 2017, the implementation will be delayed quite significantly. People currently have contracts in place with their insurers. And the Republicans aren’t going to want to cut people off shortly before the 2018 election.
We think they’ll aim for around January 2019 — and that means we’ll know for quite a long time what the impact is on people. I think if the campaign is done really well, and we really get the word out, there will be the makings of an extraordinary backlash…
We want to make sure the 20-odd million who got covered with Obamacare and much larger number of people on Medicaid who could really be hurt if it’s converted to block grant — we want to make sure there truly is a significant backlash. When you don’t have the levers of power, you’ve really got to make sure that there is an outcry that has potential for significant political consequences.
Asked if Democrats should be involved in trying to moderate or guide any changes Republicans make to Obamacare, Pollock tells Vox, “The Democrats’ first job is to stiffen their spines and make sure they are committed to resisting the kinds of changes that Republicans have suggested.” In other words, no cooperation. The goal here is to put Republicans in the same position Democrats have been in for the past several years, i.e. make them solely responsible for every bad outcome. “When people start complaining about the changes, Republicans are going to own America’s health care system,” Pollock tells Vox.
Politically, this really is Democrats’ best move. They took a hit in 2010 and again this year, at least partly, for their support of a health care plan that is not going as planned. At least some of that is the result of large numbers of people who didn’t like the disruption in the marketplace. Flipping that script, i.e. making Republicans wholly responsible for its replacement may not be enough to prevent major changes to the program but it could set Democrats up to benefit from the backlash they encourage. No doubt this time the media will not be calling the protesters racists/extremists the way they did to the Tea Party back in 2010.