Updated Aug 13, 2018

Senate Dems' midterm health care message: It's not just ACA repeal

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Senate Democrats are running on health care, but it's not just against the GOP's Affordable Care Act repeal agenda. They're also finding health care attack angles unique to their opponents.

Why it matters: Polling shows that health care is at the top of voters' minds, and Democrats are hoping that piling onto last year's unpopular Republican effort gives them that much more of an edge in November.

The details: In several Senate races, Democrats are leaning into what they say are vulnerabilities specific to Republican challengers.

  • In Missouri and West Virginia, Democrats are attacking the the GOP candidates – Attorneys General Josh Hawley and Patrick Morrisey – for signing onto a lawsuit against the ACA.
  • In Florida, they're hitting Gov. Rick Scott for not expanding Medicaid and for his tenure as CEO of hospital chain Columbia/HCA when it was fined $1.7 billion for Medicare fraud.
  • Montana Senate candidate Matt Rosendale is the state insurance commissioner and is getting hit for approving premium hikes.
  • And in New Jersey, GOP candidate and former Celgene CEO Bob Hugin is getting hammered for the company's drug price hikes. (Sen. Bob Menendez has his own problems, though: corruption charges against him, which ended in a mistrial, included allegations that he improperly helped friend and donor Salomon Melgen fight charges of Medicare fraud.)

The other side: Republicans are happy to remind voters that Democratic incumbents, especially in red states, belong to a party that is quickly moving towards embracing single-payer health care.

  • While Republicans haven't yet hit Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin for his ties to Mylan, the company that makes EpiPens, they still see it as a potentially potent line of attack. However, Morrisey has his own messy ties to an opioid distributor.

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Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally in Colorado. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

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