Washington

Republicans forced to take a stand on Trump's health care strategy

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Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s told President Donald Trump that the Senate will not be taking up a rewrite of the nation’s health care laws now that Democrats control the House. (April 2)
AP, AP

WASHINGTON – With President Donald Trump vowing to make health care a top 2020 campaign issue, Democrats are saying: Game on.

The day after Trump told the campaign arm of House Republicans that the party will get “clobbered” in next year’s election if they fail to overhaul Obamacare, House Democrats are forcing their GOP colleagues to say whether they stand with Trump on the issue.

The House is voting Wednesday on a resolution condemning Trump for asking the courts to throw out the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

“With this vote, we will see their values and their intentions,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Republicans dismissed the move as a political stunt.

“It is like every week there has to be a resolution on the floor to condemn the president, something he said or did, not a policy proposal that will actually solve the nation’s problems,” said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore.

But Trump is eager to engage.

“This will be a great campaign issue,” Trump tweeted hours before the vote.

Still, his tweets reinforced the division within the GOP on the issue after the Justice Department’s surprise move last week to fully back a legal challenge to the 2010 Affordable Care Act without a ready substitute.

Trump has said Republicans – who were unable to agree on a replacement plan when they controlled both the House and the Senate – will have another go.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., shot that down Tuesday.

“I made it clear to him we were not going to be doing that in the Senate,” McConnell told reporters. Instead, he said, Republicans will stay focused on narrower health care measures – such as reducing the cost of prescription drugs.

Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that he’d never asked McConnell to vote on a comprehensive plan before the 2020 elections.

“But only after the Election when we take back the House etc.,” he tweeted.

Speaking to the National Republican Congressional Committee Tuesday night, Trump said Republicans should not run away from the issue.

“They have health care right now,” Trump said, referring to the Democrats, “and we have to take that away from them.”

Voters trust Democrats more than Republicans on the issue of health care, according to a new Morning Consult/Politico poll out Wednesday.

Although Republicans had a slight advantage on the issue after the 2016 election, Democrats’ leaped out front after Republicans’ unsuccessful attempt to repeal and replace the ACA.

In the most recent survey, conducted at the end of March after the Trump administration backed a full repeal of the law, voters were asked how much trust they placed in Trump or congressional Republicans to protect or improve the health care system. Nearly 3 in 5 voters said “not much” or “none at all.”

In contrast, a slight majority said they had “a lot” or “some” trust in Democrats.

Trump’s move was seen as a play to his base, where he remains popular and Obamacare doesn’t. But while most Republicans have an unfavorable view of the ACA overall, according to the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, even GOP majorities like individual provisions. Those include the law’s protections for people with preexisting health conditions; an expanded Medicare drug benefit; subsidies for people who buy insurance on their own; expanded Medicaid eligibility for participating states; and allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance plans.

“It is widely accepted that a renewed debate about repeal hands Democrats a powerful new political opportunity,” the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Drew Altman and MollyAnn Brodie wrote in an Axios piece published Wednesday. “Deeper in the polling, it’s also clear that’s it’s more of a mixed bag for Republicans than President Trump may realize.”  

Contributing: John Fritze.

More: Trump tells Republican lawmakers they’ll get ‘clobbered’ if they don’t overhaul Obamacare

More: End of Obamacare? President Donald Trump resumes an old battle. Here’s why.

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President Donald Trump told House Republicans on Tuesday that they need to embrace health care reform and make it the first thing they vote on after the 2020 election. Trump spoke at a Republican fundraiser. (April 3)
AP, AP

 

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