Many Democrats believe that party infighting over the future of health care is sending mixed messages to voters, according to a report released Tuesday.
Last week a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling found that the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate violated the Constitution; however, it declined to rule if the rest of the ACA, also known as Obamacare, was unconstitutional.
The federal court’s ruling led many Democrats to worry that the party’s debate over pursuing Medicare for All or a public option has distracted them from their core message of defending Obamacare from Republican attempts to ax former President Barack Obama’s signature legislation.
Jesse Ferguson, a Democrat strategist who worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, said, “Democrats need to make clear why they are the cure to Trump’s health care repeal.”
“Presidential candidates are focused on their small differences, but not enough on the massive difference between what we’re offering and the damage his agenda would do,” he added.
Many front-runner Democrat candidates such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) back the single-payer Medicare for All, while former Vice President Joe Biden (D) supports a public option.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) told the Hill that the debate over Medicare for All and a public option plan distracts from the broader movement to defend Obamacare.
“I’m super interested in a discussion about what our healthcare system looks like ten years, 20 years from now, but the most important thing Democrats can do is make sure everybody knows how Donald Trump is trying to destroy the health care they have,” Murphy said.
The Connecticut Democrat added, “I think as a party we’re much better off … talking about the President’s efforts to sabotage the health care system.”
Celinda Lake, a Democrat pollster associated with the Biden campaign, claimed the court ruling on Obamacare harms Republicans’ credibility on health care.
“If [Republicans] wanted to position themselves well, they needed an alternative, and they offered none,” she contended. “Health care is the Democrats’ biggest, best contrast with Republicans.”
Democrats won the House majority during the 2018 midterm elections by claiming to protect Obamacare after Republicans failed to repeal and replace the ACA. Despite trying to lead on health care, Democrats have yet to pass any significant healthcare legislation through Congress this congressional term as they move towards the 2020 congressional elections.
The Democrats’ mixed message on health care provides an opportunity for Republicans to lead on health care, through which they could provide proposals that lower the cost of health care and protect preexisting conditions.
President Donald Trump said that Republicans will continue to provide Americans a great healthcare plan, while the Democrats want to eliminate Americans’ current healthcare coverage through Medicare for All and other proposals.
“My Administration continues to work to provide access to high-quality healthcare at a price you can afford, while strongly protecting those with pre-existing conditions,” Trump said in a statement after the federal court’s ruling. “The radical healthcare changes being proposed by the far left would strip Americans of their current coverage. I will not let this happen.”
Republicans could design a plan similar to Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s, which protects patients with preexisting conditions through a high-risk “guaranteed benefits pool.” The guaranteed benefits pool would protect patients with preexisting conditions in a less onerous manner compared to Obamacare’s guaranteed coverage regulations.
Binion said, “Republicans are not going to be able to run on opposition [to Obamacare] alone. Medicare for All is not going to be just a thought exercise. If Democrats are going to legislate on it, people are going to see a future of health care policy they don’t want.”
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.