Health and Science

Dueling Obamacare ads confront members of Congress as future of health-care law hangs in balance

Key Points
  • A GOP bill to repeal and replace parts of Obamacare is stalled in the House
  • Moderate and conservative lawmakers have problems with the bill
  • President Donald Trump is hoping to get a legislative win by passing the bill to the Senate
Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., conducts a news conference with members the GOP caucus in the Capitol Visitor Center to announce a new amendment to the health care bill to repeal and replace the ACA, April 6, 2017.
Tom Williams | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images

Forget about getting some peace and quiet during this congressional recess.

A variety of ads in defense of — and in opposition to — Obamacare are being unveiled as members of the House visit their home districts over the next two weeks.

The ads sponsored by advocacy groups are designed to put pressure on Republicans lawmakers, who effectively hold the fate of Obamacare in their hands, along with President Donald Trump.

Those ads come as GOP leaders continue their effort to pass a bill in the House that would repeal and replace key parts of the Affordable Care Act.

That effort has badly stalled because of qualms within the Republican caucus about the details of that bill, most recently last week, when a bid to have a vote on the bill failed for lack of support. GOP leaders have said they may call the House back into session if they believe they can pass a bill during the scheduled recess.

Iowa's Obamacare market gets hit a second time as Aetna says it will drop in 2018
Iowa's Obamacare market gets hit a second time as Aetna says it will drop in 2018

On Monday, the Obamacare advocacy group Save My Care released a series of television ads that are set to air in House districts in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida and New Jersey.

The ads are "calling out" seven GOP House members by name "for their failure to stand up and protect their constituents from a disastrous right wing healthcare repeal bill," Save My Care said in an announcement of the campaign.

In the ad specifically targeting Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., a voice says, "Congressman Issa promised to protect our health care."

"But when right-wing politicians tried to pass a disastrous health-care repeal bill that raises costs and cuts coverage, Issa wouldn't oppose them," the voice said. "Tell Issa – stop trying to repeal our health care."

A spokesman for Issa has not yet responded to a request for comment.

In another ad entitled Trumpcare 2.0, sponsored by the Bridge Project, a voice says, "Republicans in Congress are fighting to bring back Donald Trump's disastrous health-care bill. "

"If Trumpcare became law, it would gut health-care to America, and signal disaster for millions of families," the voice says. "Tell your member of Congress, don't let Donald Trump sell you out."

Both the Bridge Project ad, and the Save My Care ads, highlight estimates by the Congressional Budget Office that 24 million people would lose health insurance coverage by 2026 if the GOP bill became law, and that premiums for individual health plans would increase by up to 20 percent next year.

On Tuesday, the conservative Club for Growth is launching a million-dollar ad campaign, dubbed "End Obamacare," calling for wavering GOP lawmakers to back the repeal-and-replace bill.

"It's time for all Republicans to do what they promised voters and back legislation that fulfills President Trump's pledge to end Obamacare and lower premiums," said David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth.

On Thursday, McIntosh said, the campaign will enter a second phase, where it calls out by name 10 moderate Republicans whom the group believes are impediments to passing the bill.

During a conference call with reporters on Monday, McIntosh named just two of those 10 representatives — Chris Collins of New York, and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — whose districts are being targeted for the ads.

Spokespeople from Collins' and Kinzinger's offices weren't immediately available to comment.

Andy Roth, vice president of the Club for Growth, said the ads will be "specifically calling on them to support the repeal of Obamacare that they campaigned on."

The moderates are being targeted, according to the group, because they last week blocked progress on the bill after Vice President Mike Pence floated a provision that would have allowed states to determine what level of health benefits had to be included, at minimum, in health insurance plans sold in those individual states. Obamacare currently establishes a set of minimum essential health benefits nationally.

McIntosh said that after the ads run, he hopes that constituents ask Republican lawmakers "why didn't you get the job done?"

He said that the current GOP bill, "like most pieces of legislation, it's not perfect."

"But at this point, we need to get this thing done," McIntosh said.

Watch: Price on upholding Obamacare

HHS Secretary Tom Price on upholding Obamacare
HHS Secretary Tom Price on upholding Obamacare