A group closely aligned with House Republican leaders is hitting the airwaves Tuesday with a new round of television ads defending 15 GOP lawmakers for moving to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, a $1.5 million investment that coincides with the release of a key congressional forecast predicting 24 million fewer people would have health insurance coverage over the next decade under the House GOP proposal.
The American Action Network is running 30-second advertisements asking viewers to "thank" the GOP lawmakers for living up to their promise of "replacing the Affordable Care Act with the better health-care you deserve." The ads do not use the word "repeal," even though GOP has long used that language in campaign rhetoric and the House bill would repeal key parts of the ACA.
The ads reflect the potential political vulnerability of House Republicans, who have exposed themselves to accusations from Democrats and some in the GOP that they are stripping coverage from those who need it most and are on the verge of landing a destructive blow to the nation's health-care system. The AAN, a 501(c) (4) issue-advocacy group founded to bolster the aims of House GOP leadership, is spending significant cash to shore up the images of the lawmakers in their districts.
"Republicans are keeping their promise with a new plan for better health-care," says the narrator of the commercials, which were shared with The Washington Post. "More choices and lowers costs. Putting doctors and patients in charge again. No more big government penalties or job-killing mandates."
The ads come the day after the Congressional Budget Office released an analysis projecting the sharp decline in the number of people with insurance coverage under the GOP plan, called the American Health Care Act. The analysis also said the plan would lower the deficit by $337 billion over the next decade.
The ads will reach viewers represented by some of the members with the closest ties to House GOP leadership - including Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wis., and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Calif., themselves. They also represent some of the members who are among Democrats' top targets for 2018, such as Reps. Barbara Comstock, Va., Darrell Issa, Calif., and Don Bacon, Neb.
"We just want to continue to advertise in their districts and say, 'Job well done. But the fight's not over yet. Keep up the fight,'" said AAN executive director Corry Bliss in an interview.
That battle appears increasingly difficult amid resistance to the bill from both ends of the political spectrum. There is uncertainty about what will happen if the measure passes the House and reaches the Senate, where a growing number of Republicans have criticized it.
Unlike the AAN's last series of ads, these spots are not running in the districts of the bill's leading conservative critics, members of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus. Those critics say the proposal does not go far enough in undoing the ACA.
The House GOP plan would roll back the expansion of Medicaid that occurred under the ACA and change the way the program is administered. It would also replace insurance subsidies in the ACA with age- and income-based tax credits.
Some versions of the AAN's latest ad will air nationally during cable news programming.
The AAN said it has spent $10 million in more than 75 congressional districts nationwide to defend the House GOP effort to repeal and replace major parts of the ACA. Below is the full list of Republican members the ad campaign covers:
Reps. Jeff Denham, Calif., David Valadao, Calif., McCarthy, Issa, Mike Coffman, Colo., Carlos Curbelo, Fla., Rod Blum, Iowa, David Young, Iowa, Bacon, Greg Walden, Ore., Brian Fitzpatrick, Pa., Kevin Brady, Texas, Will Hurd, Texas, Comstock and Ryan.