Trump fights uphill GOP battle on pre-existing conditions

Trump fights uphill GOP battle on pre-existing conditions
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE is stepping up his efforts to protect Republicans from Democratic attacks that people with pre-existing conditions will be in danger of losing their health coverage under GOP control of Washington.

The Democratic attacks have been effective and put Republicans on defense following years in which a GOP Congress sought to repeal ObamaCare, which made protections for people with pre-existing conditions a part of U.S. law.

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Trump’s first year in office was also focused on repealing ObamaCare, and his administration has supported a lawsuit that would overturn the health-care law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions, preventing them from being denied coverage or charged more.

Yet on Wednesday, Trump was insisting it was the GOP that would protect pre-existing conditions, and Democrats who would not.

“Republicans will totally protect people with Pre-Existing Conditions, Democrats will not! Vote Republican,” Trump tweeted Wednesday.

Trump offered a similar argument in a tweet last week, stating that “all Republicans support people with pre-existing conditions, and if they don’t, they will after I speak to them.”

At rallies, Trump has been offering a similar argument.

The statements are an effort to fend off a barrage of Democratic attacks in the campaign.

“Poll after poll shows that voters tend to trust a candidate with a 'D' next to their name rather than a candidate with an 'R' next to their name when it comes to the issue,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist.

“They’re trying to get out in front of this to make sure that Democrats don’t effectively land it.”

Democrats pushed back sharply on Trump’s tweet on Wednesday, noting that his policy moves contradict his message.

“Good morning, America. This is a lie,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall Pelosi: 'People are dying' because McConnell won't bring up gun legislation MORE (N.Y.) tweeted in response to Trump.

“Mr. President, 4 words for you: Drop the lawsuit now,” Schumer added.

He also pointed to comments from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellO'Rourke responds to Buttigieg's gun criticism: 'That calculation and fear is what got us here in the first place' Cicilline on Trump investigations versus legislation: 'We have to do both' The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE (R-Ky.) last week. McConnell said Republicans would try again to repeal ObamaCare next year if they have the votes to do it.

“Trump is no longer just lying about health care,” tweeted Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson. “He's trying to deliberately scam the American people with lies and conspiracy theories to cover up what his party is really trying to do.”

Democrats also seized on new rules the Trump administration put forward just this week that made it easier for states to get waivers from ObamaCare regulations to encourage the use of short-term health insurance plans, which can deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or charge them more.

Tom Miller, a health-care expert at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, said that there are possible alternative ways besides ObamaCare to cover people with pre-existing conditions, such as providing enough funding for high-risk pools.

But he said that the Republican failure to spell out those alternatives has left the party scrambling to say it supports ObamaCare’s protections.

“They're lurching in the opposite direction, saying, ‘I didn’t mean that,’” Miller said. “It’s a phased retreat from where they used to be.”

The Democratic onslaught on the issue, epitomized by an ad from Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) Manchin The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Trump, lawmakers consider app that would conduct background checks: report Conservatives offer stark warning to Trump, GOP on background checks MORE (D-W.Va.) showing himself shooting the anti-ObamaCare lawsuit with a gun, continued on Wednesday.

Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampThe Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Trump wins 60 percent approval in rural areas of key states Pence to push new NAFTA deal in visit to Iowa MORE (D-N.D.) released a new ad showing a man holding his son with a pre-existing condition. “I don't understand why [Rep.] Kevin CramerKevin John CramerPrimary challenges show potential cracks in Trump's GOP Castro, Steyer join pledge opposing the Keystone XL pipeline EPA proposes rolling back states' authority over pipeline projects MORE voted against protections for people like Owen,” he says in the ad.

Cramer (R-N.D.), who some polls show has opened up a double-digit lead on Heitkamp, voted for the GOP repeal bill last year that allowed states to let insurers spike premiums for pre-existing conditions.

His campaign notes that people could only be charged more under the bill if they had a lapse in coverage for 63 days or more, which the campaign said was an incentive for people to maintain coverage.

Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSally The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation McSally knocks Arizona GOP official's call for supporters to stop Mark Kelly 'dead in his tracks' Top Arizona GOP official asks supporters to help stop 'gun grabber' Mark Kelly 'dead in his tracks' MORE, the GOP candidate for Senate in Arizona, on Wednesday released the latest in a string of GOP ads that have run across the country and argued that Republicans really do support pre-existing condition protections.

The ad says McSally is “leading the fight” to “force insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions.”

McSally voted for a GOP repeal bill last year, however, that would have allowed states to repeal ObamaCare’s protection against premium spikes on people with pre-existing conditions.

The same issue is coming up in House races as the GOP fights to keep its majority.

In a debate earlier this month, Rep. Mike Bishop (R-Mich.) defended his vote for the House repeal bill last year, noting insurers still would have been required to cover people with pre-existing conditions.

His Democratic opponent, Elissa Slotkin, noted that under the bill, insurers could charge people with pre-existing conditions much higher premiums.

“He can quote his bill that says that you can't prohibit someone with a pre-existing condition from getting care. That doesn't mean they can afford it,” Slotkin said.

“This is why people can't stand politicians,” she said. “Because they say one thing and they do another.”

The Michigan race is considered a "toss-up" by the Cook Political Report.