- The Washington Times - Monday, June 19, 2017

Democratic operatives and their progressive allies flooded the airwaves Monday with ads pressuring GOP senators to reject an emerging — yet so far secret — bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Republican Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Dean Heller of Nevada are considered the most vulnerable Republicans in the 2018 cycle and faced a twin assault from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which launched full-screen web ads aimed at mobile viewers and “cord-cutters” who don’t watch regular cable TV, and a seven-figure radio and television buy from the left-leaning Community Catalyst Action Fund.

Democrats are unable to stop the GOP from passing a fast-track bill that guts the Affordable Care Act, so they’re looking for ways to make things uncomfortable for Republicans who can’t seem to rally 50 votes for the bill from their 52-seat majority.

Leaders are negotiating a plan without public hearings, as they push for a swift floor vote by the July 4th break.

“Republicans can try and ram through their health care bill in secret, but voters will know exactly who to blame when their costs spike and their coverage is cut,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman David Bergstein. “

Mr. Flake has pushed back against President Trump in the past, and Mr. Heller is trying to give his state a softer landing under the GOP health plan by pushing for a multi-year phaseout of federal funding that allowed Nevada to expand Medicaid coverage for the poor.

Democrats say those efforts will simply stretch out the path to coverage losses, after the Congressional Budget Office estimated that 23 million fewer people would hold insurance as of 2026 under the House version of the bill.

The 30-second DSCC ads feature a father and mother selling their pickup truck and engagement ring to afford care for their ailing daughter, alluding to Americans who could see higher costs under the GOP plan. Younger, healthier consumers would likely fare better under the Republican overhaul, according to formal estimates.

The DSCC is also targeting Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican who’s taken a cooperative stance during health care talks despite clashing with party leadership in the past. And it takes a swipe at Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican who might challenge Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida Democrat, next year.

The action fund’s $1.5 million buy targets Mr. Flake, Mr. Heller and Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

Ms. Collins and Ms. Murkowski have criticized Medicaid cuts in the plan and the GOP’s push to defund Planned Parenthood over its abortion practice, while Ms. Capito is pushing to backfill Medicaid cuts with billions in new funding for opioids treatment.

In the new ads, a mother scrambles to help her wheezing son, while the narrator urges senators to consider whether costs their drug costs will rise under the GOP plan.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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