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Health Care Takes Center Stage in Battle for Congress During Pandemic

  • July 12, 2020

Democrats and their allies say they do not believe that any action before November by Senate Republicans will be enough to neutralize the issue, given the party’s extensive history of trying to overturn the health care law without putting forth any alternative. They point to recent polls that show Democrats are far more trusted on health care than congressional Republicans or Mr. Trump.

And they are pressing their case in campaigns across the country through an array of ads aimed at Republicans. Last week, Protect Our Care began a $2 million advertising campaign in Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin — all key battlegrounds — condemning Mr. Trump’s response to the pandemic. One highlighted the toll the virus had taken on those in nursing homes and other older Americans.

“This crisis did not have to be as bad as it was,” a health care worker says at the end of one such spot.

On Thursday, Majority Forward, a group aligned with Democrats, began part of a $3 million ad campaign in Georgia accusing Senator David Perdue, the Republican incumbent, of siding with insurance companies over beneficiaries, “even during a pandemic.” The group began a similar seven-figure effort in Colorado against Senator Cory Gardner, the endangered Republican incumbent.

In one of his first ads after securing the Democratic Senate nomination to oppose Mr. Gardner, John Hickenlooper, the former Colorado governor, called it “lunacy” that the Trump administration would press a lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act during a pandemic. These efforts follow earlier health care attacks on Senators Martha McSally of Arizona, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Joni Ernst of Iowa, all incumbent Republicans.

Democrats say voter anxiety about health care has been exacerbated by the Trump administration’s decision to again ask the Supreme Court to take the health care law off the books. The administration filed an extensive brief making its case in late June, joining Republican officials from 18 states in calling for action that could eliminate coverage for as many as 23 million Americans. Democrats are eager to pounce.

“Health care is a major issue for voters and a liability for every Senate Republican on the ballot,” said Lauren Passalacqua, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. She noted that Republican leaders were “in court right now trying to tear down health care access in the middle of a pandemic. It’s reckless and out of touch, and we’ll make sure voters have the facts in November.”

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