Politico: Obamacare 'Disconnect' Hurting Hagan in NC

Image: Politico: Obamacare 'Disconnect' Hurting Hagan in NC U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-NC.

Tuesday, 15 Jul 2014 11:34 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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The popularity of Obamacare in North Carolina is not translating into potential votes for Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, according to Politico.

More than 357,000 people enrolled in the health insurance exchange, which is one third of eligible enrollees in the Tar Heel Sate and the third highest among states using the federal exchange.

Nevertheless, President Barack Obama's signature domestic policy has been a thorn in Hagan's side as she faces the state's House Speaker Thom Tillis in one of the toughest Senate races in November.

Whenever Tillis has the opportunity, he sticks it to Hagan by linking her with President Barack Obama and especially to the Affordable Care Act, even as the incumbent desperately now tries to distance herself from the law she voted for.

"More than any other state, North Carolina may represent the huge disconnect between Obamacare's success in getting people health insurance and its failure to help the Democratic politicians who voted for the law," writes Politico's Jean Haberkorn.

"The North Carolina dynamic reflects a national problem for the Obama administration in this midterm election: Despite the solid numbers — 8 million enrolled in Affordable Care Act plans, and 6.7 million signed up for Medicaid — they just can't move the dial on political support for Obamacare."

A major reason that Obamacare is not translating into a political advantage for Democrats is that enrollment organizations like Enroll America made certain to distance insurance coverage from politics and Obamacare as much as possible.

They focused consumers on the health benefits of the insurance, the affordable cost of premiums, tax subsidies, and the fact that there's no ban on pre-existing conditions. The result has been that Obamacare enrollees are not tying their insurance to the party which enacted the law.

Mike Perry, a partner at PerryUndem, an opinion research firm that specializes in health care, called the lack of association a "split personality."

"You see the disconnect of the personal benefit to them and changing their thinking around the law," he said, referring to focus groups he's conducted with Obamacare enrollees.

Perry added that as far as voters are concerned, health insurance "is a personal thing." He added, "It is personally benefiting them and it has nothing to do with the law that they don't understand."

The disconnect is hurting Hagan, who is careful never to show her onetime support for Obamacare, while Tillis plays up her omission, calling it "Kay Hagan's Obamacare Dodge," Politico said.

But Hagan's spokeswoman Sadie Weiner defended the senator's position on Obamacare, saying, "This is one of many issues in this election."

"Like all the issues, it is a strong contrast between Kay's work to make common-sense fixes to the health care law to make it work better, and Tillis, who brags about rejecting health care for 500,000 people and who would take us back to a time when women were charged more than men, seniors paid more for prescriptions and people could be denied care because of a pre-existing condition."

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