Wednesday October 7th, 2015 5:05PM

Democrats reframe debate on health care

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- One of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats is standing by his vote for President Barack Obama's health care law, a fresh sign that the unpopular mandate may be losing some of its political punch.<br /> <br /> In an ad released this week, two-term Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor says he voted for a law that prevents insurers from canceling policies if someone gets sick, as he did 18 years ago when he was diagnosed with cancer. That prohibition on ending policies is one of the more popular elements of the 4-year-old law that Pryor never mentions by its official name - the Affordable Care Act.<br /> <br /> "No one should be fighting an insurance company while you're fighting for your life," Pryor says. "That's why I helped pass a law that prevents insurance companies from canceling your policy if you get sick, or deny coverage for pre-existing conditions."<br /> <br /> The law, dubbed "Obamacare," remains divisive, vilified by Republicans as big government run amok and a relentless hit on a sputtering economy. House Republicans have voted some 50 times to repeal, change or scrap the law, and the GOP is betting Americans' opposition to the law will be a great motivator in November's midterm elections.<br /> <br /> The Obama administration insists the law is accomplishing its main goal - providing health care coverage to millions of Americans who lack it, with some 8 million enrolled. In Arkansas, for example, the share of uninsured residents dropped about 10 percentage points - from 22.5 percent in 2013, to 12.4 percent in the middle of this year, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.<br /> <br /> Pryor is locked in a close race with first-term Republican Rep. Tom Cotton in a state that voted overwhelmingly for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008. Despite its Republican leanings, the state does have a Democratic governor.<br /> <br /> Pryor's latest ad made political sense to Robert Blendon, a public opinion analyst at the Harvard School of Public Health.<br /> <br /> "Democrats like this bill," Blendon said. "There's a big mistake that nobody likes this bill. They really like it lot and there are features of it that are incredibly popular with Democrats or more moderate independents."<br /> <br /> Mobilizing core voters to go to the polls is crucial in low-turnout midterm elections. Pryor's embrace of the law sends a message to Democrats that a law they like could disappear if he loses his seat, Blendon said.<br /> <br /> Republicans need to gain six seats to secure the majority for the remainder of Obama's term. Arkansas is one of the GOP's top targets.<br /> <br /> Campaign ads have reflected the waning of health care as an issue. Commercials from candidates and the party organizations have focused on veterans, bipartisanship and attendance at committee hearings while Republican-leaning outside groups such as Americans for Prosperity, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads still use many of their spots to hit Democrats for backing the health care law.<br /> <br /> "The campaign committees are smart enough to realize that they're going to have to run on something besides a position that involves taking access to health care for millions of Americans," said Jim Manley, a former Senate Democratic aide who maintained that the election was always going to be about jobs and the economy.<br /> <br /> Republicans in competitive races acknowledge that the law is a reality.<br /> <br /> In southeast Pennsylvania, where biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies grab space along Route 202 in Chester County, GOP candidate Ryan Costello offers a pragmatic take on the health care law.<br /> <br /> "In my opinion, this president is not going to repeal Obamacare in the next two years," says Costello after greeting families and volunteers at a community fair in Malvern, Pennsylvania, and speaking to business leaders.<br /> <br /> Costello talks about "patient-centered, consumer-driven health care" and gives high marks to the Medicare Advantage program. If elected to the open seat currently held by six-term moderate Republican Rep. Jim Gerlach, Costello has an idea on how to fix the health care law.<br /> <br /> "You're not going to say here's our 17 things to fix, it's all going to be in this bill," he said. "We're going to have to do it one by one. If you do that way, I think you're going to be more likely to get Democratic support."
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 9 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 9 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 9 months ago )
U.S. News
State DOT awards $48M contract for NE Ga. road project
The state Department of Transportation has awarded a $47.8 million contract for nine miles of work on a northeast Georgia road.
9:37AM ( 9 months ago )
Business News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 9 months ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 9 months ago )
Maysville man dies from Banks County wreck
The Georgia State Patrol reports that alcohol and/or drugs were factors a single-vehicle wreck that claimed the life of a Maysville man in Banks County Tuesday night.
11:07AM ( 9 months ago )
Local/State News
GOP leader regrets talk to white supremacists; party leaders rally around him
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
6:08PM ( 9 months ago )
Conviction of Putin foe sets off protest in Moscow
President Vladimir Putin's chief political foe was convicted along with his brother on Tuesday in a fraud case widely seen as a vendetta by the Kremlin, triggering one of Russia's boldest anti-government demonstrations in years.
6:03PM ( 9 months ago )
More Georgians signing up for health insurance
A federal report says more Georgians have selected health insurance plans through a federally facilitated marketplace.
4:16PM ( 9 months ago )
UN is next stop for Obama after success with Iran, pope; top issues are IS, Syria, Russia
NEW YORK (AP) — Fresh from successes on Iran and with the pope, President Barack Obama still carried heavy burdens into critical meetings this week at the U.N. General Assembly.They include the threat...
3:31PM ( 1 week ago )
Stunning Congress, House Speaker Boehner announces plans to resign; tea party declares victory
WASHINGTON (AP) — Plunging Congress into deeper turmoil, House Speaker John Boehner abruptly announced his resignation Friday, shutting down a tea party drive to depose the nation's highest-ranking Re...
6:14PM ( 1 week ago )
Tornado heavily damages 10 homes but causes no injuries on island in South Carolina
JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — A tornado quickly blew through a neighborhood on the South Carolina coast early Friday and blew out windows, knocked down trees and heavily damaged ten homes.The tornado touc...
5:08PM ( 1 week ago )
Caterpillar says it may cut more than 10,000 jobs by 2018, lowers 2015 revenue expectation
Caterpillar is planning another round of job cuts that could exceed 10,000 people through 2018, as the construction and mining equipment maker adjusts to downturns in key markets.That could amount to...
10:06AM ( 1 week ago )
Escaped tarantula grounds Atlanta-bound flight in Baltimore
An eight-legged creature that escaped in the cargo hold of a passenger flight from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International grounded the plane and sent passengers onto another flight.
By The Associated Press
9:06AM ( 1 week ago )