- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden on Wednesday unleashed a new $65 million ad blitz that hones in on President Trump’s efforts to repeal Obamacare, following the lead of down-ballot Democrats who are prioritizing the health-care law in their ads and pitches to voters.

The ads that span TV, radio, digital and print constitute “the single largest paid media investment the campaign has made to date while active in ten battleground states,” according to the Biden team.

In one ad, a woman from Texas says that if Mr. Trump gets rid of Obamacare, her son Beckett, who has leukemia, won’t be protected.

The ad will run on broadcast and digital platforms in Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

In another spot, a father from Arizona whose son Anthony has a preexisting heart condition slammed Mr. Trump for trying to “roll back protections for preexisting conditions in the middle of a pandemic.”

“It’s mind-blowing,” he says.

The spot will run in Arizona, Florida, and Nevada.

Down the ballot, House Democrats said they want to make the 2020 election about health care, which was the No. 1 issue for voters in 2018 when the party took the majority in the chamber.

“Health care is the No. 1 issue that people care about,” said Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

In South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, represented by freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham, the DCCC highlighted GOP candidate Nancy Mace’s vow to repeal the law in one recent ad.

“We’re in a deadly pandemic, but Nancy Mace vows to repeal the law protecting people with preexisting conditions,” the ad says.

Democrats currently hold a 232-198 majority in the House and are trying to protect seats in competitive districts like Mr. Cunningham’s.

Ellesia Blaque of Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, confronted Mr. Trump at a town hall in Philadelphia this week featuring undecided voters about protecting people with preexisting conditions from losing their health insurance, which is a key feature of Obamacare.

“We’re going to be doing a health care plan very strongly and protect people with pre-existing conditions,” the president replied, though his administration is currently fighting to overturn all of Obamacare.

Ms. Blaque said Wednesday that she was left with the impression that the president doesn’t understand the issue.

“He fluffed me off like soot on the bottom of his $3,000 pair of shoes,” she said on CNN.

She now plans to support Mr. Biden after weighing whether to vote at all.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Mr. Trump does plan to announce some executive actions on health care before the election, expressing skepticism that Democrats in Congress would go along with what Mr. Trump wants to do legislatively.

“Part of that is that you still have a group that campaigned for getting the Affordable Care Act that still believes the Affordable Care Act is affordable,” Mr. Meadows said. “Getting them to change their mind becomes very difficult.”

During the Democratic presidential primaries, Mr. Biden resisted calls from more liberal opponents such as Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont to scrap Obamacare in favor of government-run “Medicare for All” health care.

Mr. Biden says he will expand Obamacare and introduce a Medicare-like public health insurance option that people could purchase instead of their employer-sponsored plan.

Obamacare expanded coverage to more than 20 million people but it hasn’t worked out for everyone. Relatively healthy people who purchase insurance on their own complained of higher costs after the law required insurers to cover a comprehensive suite of benefits.

Most notably, people with middle to high incomes saw their premiums skyrocket after a flood of sicker, more costly customers entered the individual market in 2014 because people with preexisting conditions could no longer be denied coverage.

Higher-income customers do not qualify for the generous federal subsidies that make private coverage more affordable for lower-income Obamacare customers. While premiums have stabilized under the program, Republicans and other opponents of former President Barack Obama’s vision say rates settled at a floor that’s far too high.

It’s the main driver of Mr. Trump’s bid to undo the law and replace it with something better for everyone, though he’s struggled to outline a consensus plan while protecting sicker Americans who’ve been told by all sides they should be able to get and afford the insurance they need.

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

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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