Democrats Offering Obamacare Fixes in Political Campaigns

Monday, 17 Feb 2014 04:43 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Democratic Party leaders have decided on a new strategy for addressing Obamacare and the difficult situation it places on candidates — they're urging people running for office to talk openly about the healthcare law's issues while offering their own solutions to fix them.

In 2010, Democrats ignored the law, said Sen. Christopher Murphy, D-Conn., and "got their clocks cleaned," losing more than 60 seats to Republicans, who regained control of the House, reports The New York Times.

According to a memo from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, some proposed lines of attack include accusing Republicans who voted to repeal Obamacare of "wanting to go back to the days when insurance companies could charge women more than men for the same coverage, and treat pregnancy as a pre-existing condition.”

The new approach, Democrats say, is based on polls such as a CBS News survey in January, which showed people agree the healthcare law has some good aspects, but changes are needed to make the law better.

"Part of what we learned in 2010 is that this is a real issue of concern to voters and you can’t dodge it, you have to take it on, and I think Democrats are much more ready and willing to do that in 2014," said Democratic pollster Geoff Garin. "We certainly have enough evidence now that this is not a fight you can win if you are in a defensive crouch."

But Republicans are using the midterm elections as a referendum on Obamacare, and Democrats are being considered vulnerable as a result.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who is seeking re-election, takes on Obamacare by addressing the botched rollout directly in her ads.

"I’m fixing it, and that’s what my bill does, and I’ve urged the president to fix it," she says in her advertising, referring to a law she sponsored to allow people to keep their insurance plans, if they don't meet Obamacare's minimum requirements.

Democrats are also reluctant to let President Barack Obama campaign for them not only because of the healthcare law, but because of his low approval ratings.

And not all Democrats say attacking the healthcare law is advisable.

"Democrats have been way too defensive about the health care bill, and as the website becomes fully operational and the cost savings numbers continue to mount, I think we should essentially be letting our guard down and start talking about the fact that this is working,” said Murphy.

Democrats are left trying to combine criticism and optimism when talking about Obamacare.

"You have to acknowledge there were problems,” said New York Rep. Steve Israel of New York, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “You can’t sugarcoat it. If you sugarcoat it, you lose all credibility."

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