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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.

“They’re getting into the weeds,” he said, noting that the vote in question was on the discretionary nature of funding exchanges. “I haven’t found at all that this is an issue back home,” he said. “What he’s trying to do — this is a Democratic primary, so he’s trying to act like he’s for the [law] in a Democratic primary, but he wasn’t. Everybody knows what he did in his campaign,” Altmire said. “You can’t go back and change the facts.”

The winner of the primary will face presumptive GOP nominee Keith Rothfus.

Health care may be an issue in the general, but when voters are tuned in to the race, the airwaves will be so full of presidential ads that there might be too much noise for either candidate to burn in his own messaging on any issue.

New York’s 24th district

Dan Maffei (D) Vs. Ann Marie Buerkle (R)

Maffei was unseated by Buerkle in 2010. He has the distinction of being one of the few Members who voted for the health care law, was voted out of office and now is trying to come back.

In his rematch, Maffei will have the advantage of a slightly more Democratic district than the one he lost in two years ago. And while he has the early edge in the race, the albatross of his health care vote will most definitely still be strung around his neck over the next eight months.

Just ask his opponent.

During the 2010 elections, “the health care law was the most controversial” of Maffei’s votes, Buerkle said. “But at that time, because it had just been passed, I don’t think anyone [fully] understood the problems that were going to come to pass once the law started to be enacted. This time around, it will play a larger role.”

Maffei, through a spokesman, declined to discuss health care with Roll Call.

In an extensive interview on the law, Buerkle ticked through a number of aspects of Obamacare she sees as negative. “The cuts to Medicare and Medicare Advantage, that’s probably one of the most damaging pieces of this along with the creation of the IPAB board,” she said.

Buerkle admitted that the prohibition on denying insurance to people because of pre-exisiting conditions and letting children stay on their parents’ health insurance until they are 26 were “good.”

Confronted with the fact that she voted to repeal those aspects of the law along with the rest of it, she said: “Whenever you vote on something, you weigh the good and the bad. ... I think there’s no question that the burdens in this health care law far outweigh the good that was done.”

The freshman lawmaker said the good aspects of the law could be put in a more incremental piece of legislation that wouldn’t amount to a government takeover of the sector.

Democrats will note that Buerkle’s vote to repeal the law would have ended many of the publicly supported parts of the health care law, but their trump card will be her vote for the Ryan plan last year and, likely, this year as well. “She voted to end Medicare. Twice,” the messaging will go.

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