For years Democrats ran from the healthcare issue as though it were a heap of flaming rubble, which, politically speaking, it was.
Passage of the Affordable Care Act cost them control of Congress, gave rise to the upstart tea party movement and helped install Donald Trump in the White House.
But polls show support for the law increasing as it becomes more imperiled, and the result has been a political sea change.
The Idaho state representative is a down-the-line partisan who supports President Trump, opposes abortion and boasts an A-plus rating from the National Rifle Assn. But Perry breaks with many fellow conservatives when it comes to helping those who can’t afford insurance.
“People should be working and you should be carrying your own weight,” Perry said. “But we can’t just assume all people are created equal in this regard, because sometimes they’re not, and there are people who struggle with things through no fault of their own.”
Come November, voters in Idaho will likely weigh a ballot measure that would expand Medicaid to more than 60,000 hard-pressed residents, bypassing a conservative Legislature that has consistently blocked the move and thwarted advocates like Perry.
Similar end runs are being attempted in Nebraska and Utah, states Trump carried, where GOP lawmakers have also balked at extending coverage under the law. In Montana, another Trump state, a petition drive is underway to continue Medicaid expansion beyond its scheduled June 2019 finish.
Democrats have gotten the message, campaigning on healthcare not just in blue states like California, or swing states like Nevada and Florida, but red states like Kentucky, home of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who once vowed to eradicate the Affordable Care Act “root and branch.”
In Lexington, congressional hopeful Amy McGrath has attacked incumbent Republican Andy Barr for “enthusiastically” voting to strip healthcare coverage from more than a quarter-million Kentuckians — “many of the same kind of people,” she said in a campaign video, that her mother, a polio survivor, treated as a doctor.
The television spot, which helped catapult McGrath to an upset win in last month’s primary, is one of more than 26,000 healthcare-related ads broadcast by Democratic candidates across the country, according to Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group.
“We haven’t seen anywhere we don’t think healthcare…