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Democrats plan campaign health care push ahead of House vote

DNC, state parties view health care as a winning issue in 2020

Democrats in battleground states plan to go on offense on health care this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Democrats in battleground states plan to go on offense on health care this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats in battleground states are using an expected vote this week on a prescription drug bill to shift the focus on the campaign trail to health care, an issue they believe helped them win the House in 2018 and will help them defeat President Donald Trump in 2020. 

The effort comes as GOP super PACs and Trump have been working to portray Democrats as focused on a politically driven impeachment vendetta rather than legislation and policies that would help voters who gave them control of the House last November.

[Health care group backs Democrats with seven-figure ad campaign]

The Democratic National Committee and state parties in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are launching web videos and hosting a variety of events aimed at drawing a contrast with Republicans on health care, according to plans shared first with CQ Roll Call.

“The contrast on the issue of health care is perfectly clear and will be on full display in 2020: Democrats are working to make medicine more affordable while Trump’s agenda spikes costs, jeopardizes coverage protections for people with pre-existing conditions and slashes Medicare,” said David Bergstein, DNC battleground state communications director.

The House is expected to vote this week on a Democratic bill that would require Medicare to negotiate the price of up to 250 prescription drugs a year and cap what Medicare spends for them, based on lower rates paid in other countries. The bill would also impose a $2,000 out-of-pocket spending maximum for seniors in Medicare’s prescription drug program.

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Democrats running in competitive states often point to the high cost of prescription drugs as one of the top issues for voters.

Ahead of the House vote, Democrats will highlight their prescription drug proposal and GOP attempts to repeal the 2010 health care law. The plans underscore how Democrats will try to focus attention on so-called kitchen table issues as the nation’s capital is consumed with the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

The DNC’s “War Room” is planning to release web videos and make a new push to highlight health care issues on social media, according to a DNC aide.

Democratic state parties in Florida and Michigan will be launching web videos highlighting personal health care stories from voters, including seniors and health care workers. The Wisconsin Democratic Party is holding two health care-focused press conferences on Tuesday while the Pennsylvania Democratic Party is holding a press call with local elected officials and candidates. The state party in Ohio is placing guest columns focused on the issue. 

Democrats believe Republican attempts in 2017 to repeal much of the 2010 law galvanized voters in 2018 and could do so again in 2020.  But Republicans also plan to leverage health care as a campaign issue by portraying Democrats as too extreme, highlighting support for single-payer health care plans. 

Rebecca Adams contributed to this report.

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