Moving to scale to win on health care

The humiliating retreat of President Trump and Speaker Ryan on the Obamacare replacement was a powerful moment for working class women, financially pressed unmarried women, millennials, and minorities – both the Clinton and Trump voters. Based on the findings of just-completed focus groups with these key voters, the Republican failure has created a major opportunity for progressives.

  • The Democrats’ attack using the Congressional Budget Office was credible and poignant and should continue to tarnish all involved.
  • If Democrats press their attack in the context of affordability, Trump voters begin to think the president is forgetting the people who elected him and who want him to show more empathy for the middle class.    
  • The Democrats’ approach to the Affordable Care Act – saying only that “the law is not perfect” – misses how radically different voters see health care since the ACA’s passage, and how important it is for Democrats to be the voice of change and positioned as the drivers behind fixing health care to make it “affordable for all.”

Health care is being cited as one of the top problems to be addressed by leaders and has surged to be one of the primary personal challenges facing people in new focus groups conducted for Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund.[1] These women are working class, millennials and minorities who are the least likely to have decent employer-based insurance. They are struggling with increasing costs, whether they are in the exchanges or not, and desperate for change.

With affordability top of mind, they can tell you exactly what they are spending on their son’s diabetes medications, their monthly premiums for their family, the increase they face next year, or the deductibles of the plans on the exchanges.

That is the context for why so many working class voters struggled with the ACA and many voted for candidates who promised to repeal and replace ‘Obamacare.’  But now that context gives progressives the upper hand, if they understand that the combination of stagnant wages and rising premiums, along with high deductibles, makes ‘affordability’ the dominant concern, and if they understand why this has become a federal issue.  


[1] These focus groups were conducted March 23, 27 and 28 in Akron, OH, Cleveland, OH and Richmond, VA among white non-college women, white unmarried women under 45 and older than 45, white millennial women and African American women. The groups included a representative mix of Clinton and Trump voters.  

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