Republicans are running away from their efforts to gut the ACA, particularly the popular protections for patients with preexisting conditions with midterm elections less than a month away.
Look no further than California's hotly contested 48th Congressional District where longtime incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, best known for his cozy relationship with Russia, has launched an advertisement touting his support of protections for preexisting conditions.
But what Republicans like Rohrabacher don’t say in their ads is that they voted many times in the last two years to repeal the ACA and its patient protections during Donald Trump’s time in the White House and even when President Barack Obama was in office. Meanwhile, several other Republican members of Congress, like U.S. Reps. Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington) have scrubbed their web sites of past opposition to the ACA.
"Republicans can’t defend their indefensible work to rip health care away from those of us with pre-existing conditions and raise our costs, all while giving tax breaks to their insurance and drug company donors,” Amanda Harrington, spokeswoman for the pro-ACA group, Protect Our Care.
“That's why Republicans are trying to erase their repeal record from memory - they're scrubbing language from their website, pushing meaningless, toothless resolutions and avoiding constituent and reporter questions on health care. But the trouble for them is that we all remember the damage Republicans have done and continue to do to our health care -- and we're not going to forget it, either."
National polling and surveys in congressional districts across the country indicate the ACA’s popularity is rising among Republicans, independents and Democrats. More than 80% of Americans don’t support allowing insurance companies to exclude people with pre-existing conditions“such as diabetes or cancer,” an Urban Institute study released this summer shows.
The polling is in sharp contrast to 2010 when Republicans swept into power, winning control of the U.S. House of Representatives largely thanks to a campaign attacking the ACA, also known as “Obamacare.”
As the law has expanded health coverage to more than 20 million Americans, it’s an entitlement rising in popularity much like Medicare coverage for the elderly or Medicaid for people with low incomes. But the ACA’s patient protections hit closer to home for more Americans than just those who gained coverage.
There are more than 130 million Americans who have at least one pre-existing condition. And more than 30 million individuals between the ages of 55 and 64 who have a pre-existing condition and could have been denied coverage before the ACA began to take effect.
Aside from the legislative attacks on the ACA, 18 Republican attorneys general and two GOP governors are attempting in federal court declare as unconstitutional protections for patients with pre-existing conditions.
A lawsuit attempting to declare the ACA unlawful is hurting Republicans like Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley who is running for the U.S. Senate. Polls show a tight race between Hawley and incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill. And lately Hawley is trying to claim support for patient protections for those with pre-existing conditions.
“We estimate that 27% of adult Americans under the age of 65 have health conditions that would likely leave them uninsurable if they applied for individual market coverage under pre-ACA underwriting practices that existed in nearly all states,” the Kaiser Family Foundation says in a December 2016 study. “While a large share of this group has coverage through an employer or public coverage where they do not face medical underwriting, these estimates quantify how many people could be ineligible for individual market insurance under pre-ACA practices if they were to ever lose this coverage.”