by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Republicans have abandoned their strategy of elevating people hurt by Obamacare as the midterm election pressure has increased.
Gone from the airwaves are personal anecdotes from those President Trump once dubbed the “ victims” of Obamacare: people who faced soaring costs or the loss of their doctor. Millions of Obamacare customers still face those problems, but Republicans are no longer talking about the victims they once championed.
To be sure, most congressional Republicans still do pledge to repeal Obamacare. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said this month that Republicans would take another swing at the healthcare law if they retain power, saying that they are “not satisfied with the way Obamacare is working.” And the Trump administration has pursued regulatory changes geared toward Obamacare losers.
But the tone and focus have shifted. Republicans on the campaign trail aren’t highlighting the specific harms customers face as justification for full repeal, and the president hasn’t been holding press events with the law’s losers, as he did during last year’s repeal push.
Even this year’s open enrollment period hasn’t elicited much GOP messaging. In past years, the news would have provided plenty of ammunition for Republicans: Rates are too high for some customers, even after falling modestly, and half of counties feature only one option for coverage.