Republicans are clear about their goals if they can win a couple more Senate seats in the November midterm elections: Take health care away from millions of people.
Republicans currently hold a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate. In November, 35 seats are on the ballot, and several Democrats are defending seats in states Trump won in 2016.
With less than 100 days to go before election day, Republicans are talking about what they will do if they increase their majority.
“With 53 members we get health care done,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) told Politico.
“Getting health care done” refers to Republicans’ almost decade-long quest to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
House Republicans passed a bill in 2017 that would have kicked 23 million people off of health care, eliminated protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions, and imposed an “age tax” on people aged 50-64, driving up the cost of health insurance by thousands.
But the bill was thwarted in the Senate a few months later by unified opposition from every Senate Democrat and a small group of Republicans.
Now Republicans are eyeing the midterm elections as a possible opportunity to grow their ranks and try once again to kick millions of families off of health insurance.
“Fifty vs. 53? Fifty-three is huge, relatively speaking,” Sen. John Thune (R-SD) told Politico.
While Republicans are intent on destroying the ACA, voters have a starkly different view.
In a new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll, there is a 21-point margin between people who want to keep the ACA or strengthen it (59 percent) and those who want to repeal the ACA or weaken it (38 percent).
Support for keeping or strengthening the ACA has support from the majority of “Never Hillary” independent voters, suburban white women, African-American women, and young voters aged 18-34.
Meanwhile, no groups of polled individuals support Trump’s health care policy, which is virtually identical to the Republican platform.
While Republicans dream of a day when people with pre-existing conditions are charged exorbitant rates for health care, Democrats have their eye on retaking control of Congress’ upper chamber.
“There’s a path,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), told Politico. “It’s a narrow path but a credible path.”
Democrats have their eye on Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the country. Heller voted to gut the ACA, and vows to try again despite the fact that health care is the top concern of Nevada voters.
Democrats also have pickup opportunities in Arizona, where Sen. Jeff Flake is retiring, as well as Tennessee, where Sen. Bob Corker is also retiring.
If Democrats gain control of the Senate, Republicans will be unable to destroy the ACA.
But if Republicans expand their majority, health care is on the chopping block, and millions of Americans will face dire consequences.
Published with permission of The American Independent.