- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Republican-aligned groups poured millions of dollars into ad campaigns Wednesday urging Congress to gut and replace Obamacare, hoping to remind voters why they disliked the health care law and to stiffen spines among wavering Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Polls show the zeal for repeal is waning, just as Republicans are finally in a position to get it done.

At town halls back home over the past month, they have been heckled and shouted down by constituents and liberal activists who say they fear what the loss of the law will mean for their own health care coverage. The activists have also been mocking the Republicans for taking seven years to come up with a replacement for the health care law — and still not having one.

The new conservative ad campaign is aimed at combating that message, saying Republicans won the argument at the ballot box, so there is no reason to get weak-kneed now.

“Last fall, Americans sent Washington a clear message: Clean up the Obamacare mess,” said Steven Law, president and chief executive officer of One Nation. “We’re going to make sure Washington follows through.”

His group, which is aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, will run TV spots in nine states targeting Democrats — including in Missouri, Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin — who have supported Obamacare.

Additional spots urge Senate Republicans who face re-election next year or tend to stake out centrist positions to “keep fighting to repeal and replace the Obamacare mess.”

The American Action Network, an ally of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, unveiled a $2.2 million effort featuring a California mother who lost her doctor and preferred health care plan under Obamacare. It builds on a previously announced, $5.2 million ad buy to promote the Republicans’ repeal-and-replace strategy.

The groups said it was important to push back at pro-Obamacare supporters and highlight the debate, now that Mr. Trump’s health and human services secretary, Tom Price, is in place and Republicans have outlined the contours of their plans.

The president on Wednesday said he plans to release a health care plan next month, which syncs with congressional Republicans’ plans to take action.

“We’ll be submitting something that I think people will be very impressed by,” he told reporters at the White House.

It is unclear if he was referring to a joint effort with Congress or a separate plan, though Republicans will have to rally behind a strategy either way.

Democrats say Obamacare is more popular than ever, so they won’t join efforts to repeal it.

A Politico/Morning Consult poll released Tuesday found the health care law is now in positive territory, with 46 percent saying they “strongly” or “somewhat” approve of it, compared with 45 percent who disapprove.

Slightly more than half of voters — 51 percent — think the Affordable Care Act should be repealed completely or in part, but that is a drop of 8 percentage points from a similar poll in January.

Mr. Ryan said congressional Republicans had no choice but to “rescue” Americans from markets beset by rising premiums and dwindling choices under Obamacare. Major insurer Humana announced this month that it will pull out of the program at the end of this year, and the CEO of Aetna, another big player, said the Affordable Care Act “is in a death spiral.”

“Obamacare is not simply stuck in some kind of status quo. It is getting worse by the day,” Mr. Ryan said before Congress adjourned for its Presidents Day recess.

House Republicans last week released an outline of their plans, saying they would replace Obamacare exchanges and income-based subsidies with tax credits based on age; rein in generous federal funding for states that opted to expand their Medicaid populations; and let people pour more money into tax-advantaged savings accounts that can be used for medical expenses.

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