A Senate Race Where Democrats Neutralized Obamacare Attacks

Posted October 16, 2014 at 1:30pm
A Senate Race Where Democrats Neutralized Obamacare Attacks
Franken is seeking a second term in the Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Republican critique of the president’s health care overhaul law may have hit a wall in Minnesota, complicating the GOP’s already long chances of picking up a Senate seat in the state.

Though the state’s health care exchange, MNsure, has hit a few snags in recent weeks, local Democrats still claim the program is an overall success — at least relative to other states. A University of Minnesota study credited the Affordable Care Act for dropping the state’s uninsured numbers to roughly 5 percent, making it the one of the lowest in the country. Minnesota also touts the lowest premium rates and generally low health care costs.

Those statistics have made it more difficult for businessman Mike McFadden, the GOP’s nominee, to challenge Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., for supporting the president’s signature health care law. Franken is the front-runner in the race, and independent polls show him with a small double-digit lead.

“The Republicans hope that the toxicity of the moniker Obamacare would lead to this kind of mob running against the Democrats has not happened. Voters are hearing different things,” said Larry Jacobs, a political science professor at University of Minnesota. “It’s turning out that Democrats have found strategies to fight to a draw, which in 2014 is probably the best they could hope for, at least on this issue.”

Franken’s campaign has focused on the state’s achievements and the more popular aspects of the law, including a provision he helped craft that requires health insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on services, as opposed to administrative overhead.

McFadden initially opposed that language as part of his position to repeal the health care law, but he later said he would consider keeping the policy when pressed on the issue in an August interview with WCCO-TV. In a recent debate, McFadden has said his major gripe with the health care law is that states can make better decisions than the White House.

“I believe the states are laboratories for experiment,” he said in an Oct. 1 debate.