Stories by Drew Altman, Kaiser Family Foundation

The health care surge: Why it's rising as a midterms issue

Data: Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking poll conducted April 20-30 and June 11-20 2018. Margin of error ±5%; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

In recent elections, Republicans have effectively used health care and anti-Affordable Care Act sentiment to rally their base. Now, the repeal effort has made the ACA more popular and given Democrats a weapon to use to motivate their base and reach out to independents.

Between the lines: The importance of health care as a national priority is sometimes overstated — but our recent polling shows it really could be a decisive issue in the midterms. That's because it has been surging as an issue for Democrats, and in an election many see as a referendum on President Trump, it may now be as important a factor as Trump is.

The big warning in the Kentucky Medicaid decision

A bird with an AMA symbol flying out of a cage
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The federal court decision on Kentucky's Medicaid waiver may be more sweeping than has been recognized — because it shows how any state proposal to impose work requirements, or make other changes that reduce coverage, could be immediately vulnerable to legal challenges.

The bottom line: The DC District Court shot down the Kentucky waiver, including its work requirements, because the Health and Human Services secretary did not address the likelihood that it would cause people to lose their health coverage. And whether you are for them or against them, all work requirement programs will cause some coverage losses.

Trump gives Democrats a big health care opening for the midterms

Affordable Care Act supporters in front of the Supreme Court
Affordable Care Act supporters support a 2015 Supreme Court ruling upholding the law's subsidies. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Most of the discussion of the Trump administration's decision not to defend the Affordable Care Act — and to urge the courts to throw out its protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions — has focused on what happens to the individual insurance market. But the political impact may be even greater.

Why it matters: Protections for people with pre-existing conditions are hugely popular, and the administration may have handed Democrats their strongest health care weapon yet — because now they can make the case that the administration has gone to court to take away protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions.