In repeal fight, Dems see a chance to re-message health care reform

WASHINGTON — A day before House Republicans plan to repeal the recently-passed health care law, White House and Democratic officials are ramping up their messaging on the most popular bits of health reform in an effort to shape the debate of repeal.

Whie House officials began the day releasing a report that said 2.3 million Minnesotans with a pre-existing condition could lose their insurance coverage if the law is repealed. Later today, Sebelius and Gov. Mark Dayton will hold a conference call to discuss the drawbacks of repeal with a particular focus on Minnesota. DFL officials will hold a press conference at noon (Central time) in Duluth targeting freshman Rep. Chip Cravaack on the issue of repeal.

Debate on repeal begins today in the House, with a vote scheduled for Wednesday. A bill directing GOP-led committees to write a replacement health reform measure comes Thursday.

The plan appears to be three-fold: First, highlight the bits of health reform that are tougher to argue with, like the ban on refusing insurance coverage to those with preexisting conditions, extra coverage benefits to seniors, allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance and the like. In so doing, they make the subtle argument that Republicans either want to or don’t mind eliminating those popular reforms.

“The Affordable Care Act is stopping insurance companies from discriminating against Americans with pre-existing conditions and is giving us all more freedom and control over our health care decisions,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a statement emphasizing that point. “The new law is already helping to free Americans from the fear that an insurer will drop, limit or cap their coverage when they need it most.  And Americans living with pre-existing conditions are being freed from discrimination in order to get the health coverage they need.”

Second: Minimize the nasty bits, like the coverage mandates, by saying they’re an unwelcome but necessary thing to make the good bits work. Casting the bad as an enabler of the good, as it were. And third: Asking why the Republican majority in the House isn’t more focused on the economy instead.

As New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, the new chief messenger in the Senate Democratic caucus, said on Meet the Press: “We welcome, in a certain sense, their attempt to repeal it, because it gives us a second chance to make a first impression.”

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