Yesterday, Jonathan Chait warned Democrats that they need to sharpen their message against the GOP’s campaign to repeal health care reform if they hope convince the public that the law is worth preserving. “If you shrug it off as a meaningless symbolic vote, then why not go ahead and vote yes?,” he asks. “In fact, Democrats have a strong response. Republicans are voting to open up the donut hole for Medicare recipients and charge them higher rates, allow insurance companies to turn away anybody whose family has a preexisting condition, and all sorts of awful things.”
Unwrapping the individual provisions of reform from the law as a whole and the process it took to pass it has always been an effective messaging strategy, one that incoming House message guru Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) deployed rather skillfully this morning during her CNBC debate against Rep. Tom Price (R-GA):
WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: The Republicans will take away a 50 percent cut in brand name drugs that seniors got…it will mean that children and in a few years everyone will be dropped or be denied coverage for the pre-existing condition that they might have. It will mean that young adults will no longer be able to stay on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26. …. What we’re going to do is put insurance companies and profit-driven decision making back in the driver’s seat, instead of decision making between doctors and their patients.
PRICE: That’s the kind of policy that was rejected on November 2nd.
WASSSERMAN-SCHULTZ: Really? Really? You think that people want insurance companies, Tom. You think that Americans want insurance companies to make decisions about whether or not they get coverage for a pre-existing condition? That is absolutely not what November 2nd was about.
It’s also worth pointing out that the Republican repeal legislation is actually a major cop-out. Rather than proposing an alternative for the very sickest Americans who are now enrolled in reform’s high risk insurance pools or the small businesses who are benefiting from the small business tax credits, the GOP replacement legislation instructs the health committees to develop alternative solutions and report back to the full House. The maneuver shields the bills from any detailed criticism — Republicans presumably want to avoid the kind of backlash that their initial alternative generated — but it also suggests that the party has nothing immediate to offer to those Americans who are already benefiting from reform’s early consumer protections and programs.