The results are in!
No, not the outcome of tomorrow’s midterm elections.
I’m talking about the winner of 2018 when it comes to political advertising, stump speeches and social media campaigns.
On every platform for political messaging, the number one issue driving voters is healthcare.
Talk about a comeback.
In 2010, Tea Party opposition to ObamaCare led the GOP to pick up 63 seats in the House and expand their Senate majority by six seats. At that time, polls showed the Affordable Care Act was viewed unfavorably by a plurality of Americans.
Fast forward to the 2018 midterms. With support for ObamaCare as their top talking point — and some among them even calling for a more extensive, single-payer system — Democrats are projected to capture the House majority.
An October survey from National Nurses United found 225 Democratic House candidates running campaigns with explicit calls for a single-payer, government healthcare plan.
An American Barometer poll taken for The Hill.TV last month found that a majority of self-described Republicans, 52 percent, support single payer.
The polling explains why healthcare is the hot potato of 2018 politics.
It also explains why Democrats are reminding voters of the 60 times Republicans in the House voted to repeal ObamaCare. Of course, the Democrats are also mentioning that, despite the current GOP majorities in both the House and Senate, the Republicans failed to create a better plan.
“We’re making sure that the American people know about the voting records of our Republican colleagues when it comes to health care — voting to take away protections for people with pre-existing conditions.” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico recently told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”
It is obvious what is driving the surge in popularity for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Americans like being able to buy insurance even if they have a pre-existing condition; they do not want insurance companies to increase premiums when they get sick; and they want insurance to cover essential health services like ambulance rides, substance abuse treatment and mental health counseling.
In August, Kaiser Family Foundation polling found a whopping 75 percent of Americans saying it is “very important” that ObamaCare stops insurance companies from denying insurance coverage to people with a pre-existing condition.
By the way, that includes 86 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of independents, and 58 percent of Republicans.
This incredible rebound in support for the ACA comes despite eight years of Republicans in Congress shamelessly trying to sabotage it.
It was just last December that the GOP majority in Congress repealed the ACA’s mandate for all Americans to have health insurance — a provision which financially stabilized healthcare markets by requiring people to get insurance before they got sick.
In addition to undoing the mandate in an attempt to kill off ObamaCare on the national level, several Republican governors refused to expand Medicaid in their states. They turned away money from the ACA to pay medical bills for the sickest, most vulnerable residents of their states.
That rejection proved unpopular.
It is currently hurting one such Republican governor, Florida’s Rick Scott, as he runs for the U.S. Senate. And even in deep red states such as Utah and Nebraska, voters are now projected to pass ballot initiatives to expand Medicaid over the objections of GOP state officials.
Far from wanting an end to the ACA, voters in both parties are telling pollsters they want a single-payer, government health system, opening the door to a plan that provides a safety net for people in need of health insurance. That’s the plan Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has backed for years despite complaints about “socialism” from the GOP.
Sanders currently has 16 co-sponsors in the Senate for a bill to make single payer into law.
His backers include many of the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential frontrunners, including Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.).
Even President Obama is now giving his support to the single-payer proposal.
“Democrats aren’t just running on good old ideas like a higher minimum wage, they’re running on good new ideas like Medicare for all,” Obama said in September.
An August Reuters/Ipsos poll found 70 percent of Americans support Medicare for all. It found 52 percent Republican support and 85 percent support among Democrats.
Both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. (D-Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), have stopped short of endorsing Sanders’ bill. But with polls moving in the direction of support for the plan there is going to be rising pressure on Democrats to deliver a floor vote on the single-payer plan.
The first two years of the Trump presidency have been a rollercoaster. Wouldn’t it be the ultimate twist and turn if Trump’s wild ride comes to a stop because a pro-health care argument puts Democrats back in charge of Congress?
Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel. His latest book, “‘What the Hell Do You Have to Lose?’ — Trump’s War on Civil Rights” is out now, published by Public Affairs Books.
The Hill · by Juan Williams, opinion contributor · November 5, 2018