Times have changed. For most of the past decade, Democratic candidates would do anything to avoid talking about health care, while Republicans have jumped at every opportunity to rail against former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. the ACA, or Obamacare).
When Republicans eventually won control of Congress in 2014, their attack on the health care law had a lot to do with it. And in 2017, a year into Donald Trump’s presidency, they tried to follow through on their promise to repeal the ACA. Republicans in Congress came extremely close to confirming a health care overhaul before failing. And in the lead-up to the midterms, their assault on Obamacare has stalled.
Now it’s 2018, and things are different. Health care is a top issue for midterm voters, and polling shows that more Americans now support the current health care law than oppose it. For Republicans, that’s a problem. For Democrats, it’s an opportunity.
Across the country, health care has been a centerpiece of Democratic campaign platforms as candidates try to put Republicans on the defensive. Democrats are lining up in support of a provision included in the ACA that protects coverage for preexisting conditions.
The weird thing is ... so are Republicans. Despite spending nearly a decade beating the drum for a full repeal of Obamacare, conservatives like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) are now saying that “everyone agrees that we are going to protect preexisting conditions.”
But what do they mean by that? Just last year, Republicans came close to passing a health care bill that would have stripped Americans of protections for preexisting conditions without offering a comparable plan to replace them.
The hypocrisy is astounding.
In the past month, candidates from both sides have gone all-in on the fight over preexisting conditions. Republicans are running ads saying they’ve worked hard to protect them, while Democrats are rushing to say that’s not true. While both parties are now saying they’ve fought to protect coverage for preexisting conditions, the record clearly shows that Republicans have maintained a longstanding effort to remove them.
To be fair, the Trump administration has revealed a new plan to protect Americans with preexisting conditions, or so they say. On closer inspection, it looks a lot like a plan to create loopholes to avoid them.
Whether Republicans have actually had a change of heart or are just working to appeal to midterms voters remains to be seen.
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