Everything old is new again. The younger, scrappier upstarts in the Democratic base obviously would like to make the midterm elections a referendum on President Trump. You hear them chanting about abolishing ICE and moving forward with impeachment. The problem is that none of that is polling very well at the moment. So if the establishment in the Democratic leadership gets their way, you can count on hearing more and more about health care in the next few months. And before you scoff too much, it’s probably not a bad move.
According to Axios, “Democrats accused the Trump administration of ‘sabotaging’ the ACA” with the expansion of short-term health care plans.”
If you thought yesterday’s expansion of “short-term” health plans seemed especially controversial, even within the bounds of a debate we’re all very used to, you were right.
The big picture: These new rules challenge two fundamental parts of the Affordable Care Act: its minimum standards for what insurance has to cover; and its goal of making those guarantees work by pulling in a mix of healthy people.
What they’re saying: Democrats accused the Trump administration of “sabotaging” the ACA.
How else can we tell that this is what the DNC has up their sleeves? You’ll note that Democrats have nearly run out of options in terms of opposing Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. But now, some of them are bringing up his potential to overturn SCOTUS’ prior decision about the constitutionality of the program. They’ll still talk about Roe v. Wade, of course, but this is the icing on the cake.
Polling suggests health care is a safer bet too, particularly if you look at how motivating it is to both Democrats and Independents. It’s also an issue where Republicans are open to attack for completely failing to deliver on one of the bigger promises they made during the 2016 cycle. Politico was recently making a big deal out of President Trump’s promises about cutting drug prices. Unfortunately, that hasn’t worked out very well either.
On top of that, Democrats are already pointing out that the Trump administration postponed action five times on price ceiling price regulation pertaining to a drug discount program that is mandated by law. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies are pushing to slash that same drug discount program and it’s tough to deny that they have the President’s ear given some of the appointments he’s been making.
The GOP needs to be careful because this is potentially fertile ground for the Democrats. Republicans have (mostly successfully) attacked Obamacare for cutting Medicare (and apparently those attacks are still being invoked), and because it didn’t do anything to bring down the cost of healthcare, which meant that insurance costs were never going to come down to begin with. But by not replacing it with anything that accomplished the same goals, now Democrats probably feel the shoe is on the other foot.
Whether or not they gain any traction with this depends on their message discipline. This has the potential to be a good message for the DNC, but if they can’t get their new party “superstars” to stop shouting about socialism, impeachment and gun bans, it won’t do them much good.