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 TrumpStates slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report 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 SchumerOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law | Michigan governor seeks to pause Medicaid work requirements | New front in fight over Medicaid block grants House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law Why a second Trump term and a Democratic Congress could be a nightmare scenario for the GOP 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 McConnellTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans Schumer briefs Democrats on impeachment trial 'mechanics' Trump legal team gears up for Senate impeachment trial in meeting with GOP senators 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) ManchinNo one wins with pro-abortion litmus test Senate confirms Brouillette to replace Perry as Energy secretary Political purity tests are for losers 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 CramerTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans Schumer briefs Democrats on impeachment trial 'mechanics' Trump legal team gears up for Senate impeachment trial in meeting with GOP senators 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 McSallyLobbying world Senate roundtable showcases importance and needs of women entrepreneurs GOP braces for Democratic spending onslaught in battle for Senate 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.