WASHINGTON – The campaign arms for Democrats, from the presidential contest and Congressional races to state legislatures and gubernatorial elections, have centered their focus on a single issue they believe will lead them to victory in November: health care.
While Democrats have consistently focused on health care as a key issue in the fall elections, coronavirus has upped the stakes and thrust the topic even more so into the spotlight as more than 1.5 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 90,000 have died from it.
In a six-page memo shared with USA TODAY, the Democratic National Committee — along with campaign arms for Senate Democrats, House Democrats, Democratic governors, Democratic attorneys general and Democratic state legislatures — outlined a top-to-bottom effort to highlight health care in races across the country in addition to GOP-led efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The Supreme Court could hear arguments this fall on a federal appeals court's ruling that the law's health insurance mandate is unconstitutional. But the high court is unlikely to decide the fate of the Affordable Care Act until after the fall elections.
Democrats plan to make those legal challenges and years of GOP animosity toward the the landmark legislation signed into law in 2010 by President Barack Obama a central piece of their strategy.
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“It is the worst possible time to try to dismantle our health care system," the chairs and co-chairs for the six groups said in a statement. "But Republicans at every level of the ballot are fighting in court to take away people’s health care – or blocking millions of working families from life-saving Medicaid coverage. Voters know that Democrats are the party of health care. We’re going to keep reminding them of that through November.”
Democrats made health care a centerpiece in the 2018 elections and credit the focus on the issue as helping them take control of the House. But clashes within the party on the issue defined the early part of the presidential contest with spirited debates over Medicare For All and expanding upon the Affordable Care Act.
The party also made the issue central to its rebuttal to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address earlier this year, a response that was largely overshadowed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripping up the president's speech.
The memo outlines how Democrats will focus on the issue in campaigns level-by-level. It notes in the presidential elections, the focus will be on Trump's health care plan and in congressional elections – where Democrats will be defending their majority in the House and aiming to take control of the Senate — there will be an emphasis on incumbent GOP voting records on health care.
Democrats also plan to put a spotlight on Republican governors and attorneys general who have fought against Medicaid expansion and gone to court to push back against the Affordable Care Act.