Republicans are hoping to capitalize on President Trump’s decision to scrap the Affordable Care Act in favor of a plan that will allow insurers to charge higher premiums for older Americans and lower premiums for people with preexisting conditions.
Democrats are hoping the ad blitz will boost support for their proposal, which would allow states to opt out of the individual mandate requiring everyone to have health insurance, but would still allow insurers from those states to charge people older than 65 a higher premium if they have a pre-existing condition.
The ad blitz, spearheaded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has so far been largely limited to Republican candidates, with Trump’s chief of staff and a prominent GOP consultant helping to spearhead the effort.
Democrats are betting the ad campaign will be more effective than previous efforts that targeted Democrats, such as their last major ad buy of the 2016 election cycle.
The group is hoping the ads will draw in undecided voters.
Republicans have sought to make the president’s decision a political liability for the party, but the timing of the move could be seen by some as a political gambit by the White House to try to push Democrats to act in a more aggressive fashion.
While the ad buys are being planned, Trump himself is also working on his own healthcare strategy.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday that Trump plans to make changes to the ACA and said that his administration would continue to work with states to ensure people with pre-existing conditions are able to keep their health plans.
Sanders said that the president would likely continue to use executive actions, such the one he issued in January that requires insurance companies to cover pre-Existing Condition exclusions for people older and sicker than 55, to help the law’s insurance markets.
In a tweet, Sanders said Trump is focused on ensuring that people with the pre-condition exclusion are able “to keep their plans, get access to affordable healthcare, and be able to afford their care.”
But some Republicans are pushing back against the push, noting that the ACA’s individual mandate is a law that was passed in part to provide affordable coverage for Americans who have preexistent conditions and has since been expanded to include more people with certain medical conditions.
Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., a former chief executive officer of the insurance giant Anthem, said Thursday he would work to help states keep the individual insurance mandate in place, but that states should not be required to make a major change to the law in order to maintain coverage for the more than 30 million Americans who do not have it.
“The individual mandate, like the mandate for Medicaid, is an essential element of a successful and robust health care system,” Price said.
“States are not going to be forced to change their policies.
They can decide to change them.
That’s their decision, and it’s theirs to make.
That means they can’t force states to change it.
That is a fundamental principle of our system.”
Democrats have also said they will continue to press for changes to Medicare.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said that he was “delighted” that Trump will be able “change Medicare, not force states into it,” but said that states would still need to be able afford coverage for their retirees and other eligible people.
“The president should be able, if he wants to, to bring in a different health care bill,” Durbine said.