Feb. 12, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Five Races in Which the Health Care Debate Will Matter

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
Demonstrators hold a rally at the Health and Human Services building Friday to protest the HHS mandates under the new health care law. The Supreme Court will hear a case on the law’s constitutionality today.

And there will be strong Democratic pushback on the Ryan budget against whoever the GOP nominee is in this race.


Elizabeth Warren (D) Vs. Scott Brown (R)

Health care won’t decide this race, but it’s hard to see how it won’t be an issue. Brown rode his pickup truck and a promise to be the 41st vote blocking health care reform to an upset special election victory in January 2010. Right before he was sworn in, he told Barbara Walters that he thought the whole health care plan should be scrapped and Congress should start from scratch.

He voted for the law’s repeal, and aides said he still opposes the law and feels that health care should be left up to the states. Warren supports the law, although there is no mention of it by name on her website. Her platform trumpets some of its more widely supported measures.

Part of what makes health care a unique issue in this race is that the national law was heavily based on the Bay State’s health care legislation, which Brown voted in favor of and then-Gov. Mitt Romney, the likely GOP White House nominee, signed into law. That means issues such as the individual mandate — which is in both laws — shouldn’t be a point of contention in the campaign.

Still, Brown and Warren both see areas in which to ding each other on the Affordable Care Act.

If the Supreme Court decides parts of the laws are unconstitutional, watch for Warren to emphasize how important it will be to have a Democrat voting for Supreme Court justices. That could be a potent fundraising pitch, if one that doesn’t swing that many voters. And while she supports the law, Brown won’t be able to knock her for having voted for “unconstitutional Obamacare.”

If the court upholds the Affordable Care Act, the issue may fade in this race as the election nears.


House Races

Pennsylvania’s 12th district

Jason Altmire (D) Vs. Mark Critz (D)

This Member-vs.-Member primary pits Altmire against Critz, two opponents of health care reform who didn’t vote to repeal the law. In the nasty race, Critz will attempt to make health care an issue by threading the needle about how and what each candidate opposes in the Affordable Care Act.

Big unions back Critz, who won a special election two months after final passage of health care but said he would have voted against the bill. Altmire voted against the legislation.

The differentiation between the two comes in whether they voted to fund various aspects of the law. Critz’s team believes Altmire’s vote to “defund” the insurance exchanges is an important contrast.

“Jason has voted to make the law worse; Mark believes it needs to be made better,” a Critz aide told Roll Call. “It is going to be a major issue.”

In an interview, Altmire slapped down the idea that there was any real  difference between the two.

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