Jan 4, 2017

The Democratic strategy to combat Obamacare replacement

President Obama met with Democrats Wednesday on driving home for voters the catastrophic cost of an Obamacare repeal without a replacement.

What they're saying: Democrats' best-case scenario, according to Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, is that:

"enough Senate Republicans will realize that simple repeal without replacement is irresponsible and will create chaos."

Some Republican members don't want to own that chaos, and all it takes is three no votes in the Senate to fall short of the 50-vote threshold. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky recently wrote an op-ed against repeal without replace and has become Democrats' favorite example of a possible no vote. One senior GOP aide said he could currently only count 40 members, at most, who would vote yes on repeal without replace.

Many experts, both liberal and conservative, say such a repeal vote could wreak havoc on insurance markets while Republicans scramble to come up with and pass a replacement plan.

What's next: Obama also laid out for Democrats how to communicate the benefits of Obamacare to voters who don't understand the intricacies of health policy. Democrats plan to communicate these benefits, and the subsequent danger of removing them, to specific groups of people. Said Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat:

"I think we're going to name the victims."

Why it matters: This aligns with the second part of Democrats' strategy. If the GOP succeeds in getting the votes to pass a repeal without a replace, they're going to make sure voters understand exactly how the repeal hurt them, and who is responsible.

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