Democrats who have struggled for years to sell the public on the Affordable Care Act are now confronting a far more urgent task: mobilizing a political coalition to save it.
Even as the party reels from last month’s election defeat, members of Congress, operatives, and liberal allies have turned to plotting a campaign against repealing the law that, they hope, will rival the Tea Party uprising of 2009 that nearly scuttled its passage in the first place. A group of progressive advocacy groups will announce on Friday a coordinated effort to protect the beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act and stop Republicans from repealing the law without first identifying a plan to replace it.
They don’t have much time to fight back. Republicans on Capitol Hill plan to set repeal of Obamacare in motion as soon as the new Congress opens in January, and both the House and Senate could vote to wind down the law immediately after President-elect Donald Trump takes the oath of office on the 20th.
The emerging strategy is centered around highlighting people who have benefited from the law and who would lose insurance coverage or key consumer protections if it goes away. “We have to lead with them and their stories,” said Jeremy Bird, a Democratic strategist who served in senior roles for both President Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012 and Hillary Clinton’s campaign this year. “This is about what Trump and the Republicans want to take away from working families across the country, and we have to make that very clear this is what we’re talking about.”