Obamacare could (and should) be the key issue in Johnson-Feingold Senate Race

Politico recently published an article that highlighted Obamacare rate increases in states where there are competitive US Senate races this fall. The reporter accurately quoted me, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to expand my thoughts a bit.

I told her, flat out that I think the fallout from the ACA implementation could be a sleeper issue in the Wisconsin race that could propel Senator Johnson to victory in November.
All the pieces are there for the Senator to effectively campaign on this issue.
If Johnson were to frame the issue correctly, he could make Feingold’s vote for Obamacare an albatross that would drag him down to defeat in November. He could simply tell voters: “If you have better access to better, more affordable healthcare now than you did 6 years ago, vote for Senator Feingold. If not, don’t reward the man who cast the decisive vote to pass Obamacare.”
There are clear differences between Johnson, Feingold regarding Obamacare. And there are plenty of reason why that contrast matters to Wisconsinites.

  • Milwaukee-based Assurant Health, a leader in individual insurance, short-term policies and other niche market plans plans, blamed Obamacare as it went out of business.
  • Anthem Blue Cross will no longer sell plans on the Obamacare exchange in Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties.
  • UnitedHealth Group, is exiting ACA exchanges nationwide.
  • On July 22 Johnson introduced Obamacare Tax Relief and Consumer Choice Act; would suspend the individual mandate when health insurance premiums rise and provide relief to people who can’t afford Obamacare deductibles.
  • Johnson says Obamacare is doing grave damage to our healthcare system. “If we continue on this path, the future of our health care system is rationed, lower quality care, increased medical costs and severe limits on medical innovation.
  • Johnson has been vocal about this issue, even if the local press has not focused much on this: “Americans have seen no evidence that the “Affordable Care Act” has made health care more affordable. The evidence points in the other direction.
  • Johnson has said multiple times he wants to repeal Obamacare. In 2010 he said “replace it with market-based solutions that will include: portability, malpractice reform, mandate reduction, insurance purchase across state lines, lower costs, and a safety net for those with pre-existing conditions.”
  • This is Feingold on Obamacare in August 2015 Politico story: “Oh no,” Feingold said when asked whether he would have voted differently on the law looking back at it now. “I stood with my vote on the Affordable Care Act in 2010. I was one of the only candidates to do that,” Feingold said. “I understand people have been lied to repeatedly about what was in the bill. I regretted that, but it was fairly [stated] that over time that it would work out. That’s exactly what’s happened.” (The campaign later said that Feingold was referring to “lies” from Republicans.)

There is a clear contrast between the two candidates here.

Will Senator Johnson press the issue?

Will the press pay attention?

The answers to those questions may determine the fate of the election during the campaign’s final 70 days.