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Dems focus health care push on House swing districts

Thomas Beaumont, Associated Press
Published 8:00 p.m. ET Aug. 11, 2017

Cedar Rapids, Iowa — Democrats used a bus emblazoned with the words “Drive for our Lives” to gin up opposition to vulnerable House Republicans who voted against Obamacare with the aim of upending the GOP’s majority in next year’s midterm elections.

The vote to repeal and replace the Obama health care law looms large for 21 GOP lawmakers, including Iowa Reps. David Young and Rod Blum. They represent competitive congressional districts where Democrat Hillary Clinton won or came close in last year’s presidential election.

The collapse of the yearslong Republican quest to dismantle Obamacare has been a bitter pill for House Republicans who voted for the legislation in May, only to see the drive fall apart recently in the Senate when the GOP failed to muster enough votes.

Now all that some lawmakers have to show for the politically tough vote is the word “mean” — President Donald Trump’s description of legislation that would have made deep cuts in Medicaid, allowed states to opt out of coverage for essential benefits and knocked 23 million Americans off insurance.

The bus motored into Iowa on Friday, stopping in Cedar Rapids, the largest city in Blum’s district.

The black-and-gray motor coach was parked in downtown Cedar Rapids as Diane Peterson, 61, urged Blum to listen to his district’s independent voters, who outnumber those affiliated with either major party.

“Of course there are things in the ACA that need fixing,” said Peterson, referring to the Obama health law’s name, the Affordable Care Act. The Democrat and coffee shop owner added, “But Republicans now need to reach out.”

While Blum has allied himself with the House’s conservative Freedom Caucus, Young angered conservatives when he opposed a House GOP health care bill, then weeks later swung behind it. Independents were frustrated with the congressman’s embrace of a partisan approach to repealing and replacing Obamacare.

The Des Moines Register’s Iowa poll last month showed Trump’s disapproval climbing to 52 percent. The increase was driven largely by independents, 59 percent of whom disapproved of Trump’s job performance, compared to 50 percent in February.

Independents, who hold sway in Young’s politically diverse district, want a bipartisan approach to health care.

“That’s what I and others like me have been saying: Because of this fail, people might reach across the aisle and craft something together,” said Mark Scherer, 65, a political independent.

A national poll released Friday by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that around 4 in 5 want the Trump administration to take actions that help Obama’s law function properly, rather than trying to undermine it. Just 3 in 10 want Trump and Republicans to keep trying to repeal and replace the statute.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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