GOP campaign group goes after Senate Dems over ‘Medicare for all’

Greg Nash

Senate Republicans’ campaign arm are targeting three Democrats up for reelection in 2020 over Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) newly-unveiled “Medicare for all” bill that the Democratic presidential candidate rolled out on Wednesday.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) sent out press releases hammering Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Gary Peters (Mich.) and Doug Jones (Ala.) over the legislation as the GOP hopes to make the party’s push to the left on health care a centerpiece of the 2020 campaign cycle.

Shaheen and Peters both represent states that will be key in the presidential race next year as President Trump seeks to defend his grip on the Midwest and make gains in states Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Meanwhile, in Alabama, Jones will have to defend his Senate seat after narrowly winning a 2017 special election. Trump won the ruby red state by nearly 30 points in 2016.

While Peters and Jones had distanced themselves from the Medicare for all proposal, Shaheen initially supported Sanders’s legislation but did not join to sponsor the proposal he rolled out this week.{mosads}

“Heading into a tough re-election campaign, Jeanne Shaheen is trying to reinvent herself to save her political career,” the NRSC argued in a press release Wednesday. “In 2017, Shaheen proudly stood with Bernie Sanders and her party’s most liberal members by co-sponsoring the $32 trillion Medicare for All plan.”

The GOP group also asserted that “the American public has soured on the socialist Medicare for All proposal as they learn more about the exorbitant cost and how the plan would eliminate private health insurance.”

The New Hampshire Democrat has said she believes there are faster ways to reach universal health care coverage while panning Republicans for their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“While Republican leaders and President Trump continue their efforts to takeaway health care that millions of Americans depend on, Medicare for All legislation has helped re-ignite an urgently needed debate about reaching universal health care coverage,” she said in a statement.

“In the near term, there are faster ways to reach universal coverage by building on the progress we’ve made through the Affordable Care Act, while addressing the high cost of care and medications.”

Election handicappers with the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rate the New Hampshire and Michigan seats held by Shaheen and Peters, respectively, as “solid Democrat” while they list Jones’s race next year as a “toss-up.”

Sanders is headed to Michigan this weekend for a campaign rally where he is expected to tout his health care plan as other candidates in the crowded Democratic presidential primary field also express their desire for universal coverage.

Republicans are hoping to use the trip to put pressure on Peters over the proposal.

“Peters has supported a ‘path’ to Medicare for All, but has not answered whether he is willing to see an end to private health insurance. With Bernie bringing his campaign to Michigan on Saturday, Peters will no longer be able to hide from his party’s socialist drift,” the NRSC said.

In a separate release hitting Jones, the group said the Alabama senator “has committed to supporting the eventual 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, regardless of the fact that most of them back Medicare for All, meaning the elimination of private health insurance and trillions of dollars of new government spending.”

Neither Peters nor Jones immediately responded to requests for comment on Wednesday.

Both major political parties are currently battling for the high ground in the debate over health care. Republicans are seeking to tie Medicare for all legislation and other Democratic efforts to what they say is the party’s shift toward socialism, while Democrats have cast themselves as defenders of constituents’ health coverage as the GOP rails against the ACA.

“Republicans are desperately trying to distract from their reckless agenda to jack up health care costs for hardworking families and their dangerous lawsuit that would end protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Voters aren’t buying it, and that’s why they’re going to re-elect Democratic Senators who are focused on doing what’s right for their state and defending access to affordable health care,” a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill Wednesday. 

For their part, Democrats were recently handed fresh ammunition after the Trump administration threw its support behind a Texas district judge who ruled the entire ACA was illegal, signaling the White House was intending to try to push another ObamaCare repeal bill through Congress. 

However, after being inundated with warnings from GOP senators about the political costs of a such a maneuver, Trump declared no vote would be taken on the ACA until after the 2020 race.

Updated at 6:15pm

Tags Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Gary Peters Hillary Clinton Jeanne Shaheen

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