REPUBLICANS “ON THE DEFENSIVE.” Republicans have tried to convince everyone (and themselves) that the election is about anything other than health care. Their talking heads won’t admit it but take a look at what the campaigns are spending money on and you’ll find a lot of defensive advertising on health care. When your party’s position on voters’ top issue is toxic – and you’ve got your own disqualifying record – you don’t want to be talking about it the final 26 days.

Washington Post: GOP candidates try to blunt Democrats’ preexisting conditions attacks

  • In 2018, Republicans have found themselves on the defensive … as Democrats and grassroots advocates built a case that the GOP effort to repeal and replace Obamacare would leave millions without coverage and weaken preexisting condition protections.
  • The Democrats’ argument was bolstered when the Trump administration announced it would not defend the ACA against a lawsuit brought by 20 GOP-led states… If successful, Democrats warned, even the popular provisions of the ACA, like preexisting condition protections, would be eliminated.
  • Republicans almost unanimously opposed a plan forced to the Senate floor by Democrats on Wednesday to stop the administration from expanding short-term insurance plans, which offer far fewer benefits and aren’t required to cover people with preexisting conditions.
  • The issue came up at two Senate debates this week.
  • Mike Braun, who is running neck-in-neck with incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in Indiana, said during their debate on Monday that he “would never be for any replacement of the Affordable Care Act unless it covered preexisting conditions.”
  • And Leah Vukmir, who is running to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, said during a debate, also on Monday, that she would “fall in front of a truck before I would let people go without coverage for preexisting conditions.”
  • Yet, both candidates are on the record as being supportive of past GOP efforts to roll back Obamacare.
  • And earlier last month, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, who is in a razor-thin contest against incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), put out a TV ad discussing his son’s rare chronic disease. In it, he looks at the camera and says, “I support forcing insurance companies to cover all preexisting conditions.”
  • But Democrats are quick to point out that Hawley is one of the 20 attorneys general and governors who filed the lawsuit against the ACA that would result in ending protections for preexisting conditions.

VOX: “Republicans have a preexisting conditions problem in the 2018 midterms, and they know it.”

  • Add all these facts together, and Republicans’ claim that they support protecting preexisting conditions just as fiercely as Democrats borders on ridiculous. Maybe they have had a total change of heart, after eight years of absolutist opposition to Obamacare. But it mostly looks like they want to have their preexisting conditions and repeal Obamacare too.
  • You’ll notice independent voters overwhelmingly support that [pre-existing conditions] provision and the ban on charging people more based on their medical history. That has to be the most worrying finding for GOP candidates, especially in races that are likely to be determined by swing voters.

AP: NRSC Chair Admits Taking Away People’s’ Health Care “A Losing Strategy.

HOW IT’S PLAYING IN THE STATES. You guessed it: Republicans on defense and caught lying on camera.

  • MT – MPR: Tester Attacks, Rosendale Defends Non-Traditional Health Coverage Options
    • Earlier this month the Trump administration approved the expansion of short-term health insurance plans that don’t have to cover pre-existing conditions.
    • Tester’s Republican challenger Matt Rosendale, who is Montana’s insurance commissioner, has praised expansion of short-term plans…  the same reason he gave for endorsing Medi-Share in Montana. Medi-Share is a Christian “health-sharing ministry,”
    • “From the perspective of the person who’s represented a family devastated by this, I don’t see any reason to allow Medi-Share to do business here in Montana where it could damage vulnerable people,” Michael Cok, an attorney who sued Medi-Share on behalf of a Montana client for non-payment of cancer treatment.
  • MT – Montana Post: VIDEO: Senator Tester Defends Montanans from Junk Health Insurance Plans
    • Tester voted to get rid of short-term “junk plans” that offer inadequate medical coverage and circumvent fundamental consumer protections. They leave those that get sick with thousands of dollars in unpaid bills while racking up the profits for big insurance companies. These “junk plans” also allow insurers to charge people with pre-existing conditions more or exclude services. 152,000 Montanans with pre-existing conditions need stability, not junk insurance.
  • MO – NOW THIS: Missouri Attorney General Sues to End Pre-Existing Condition Protections

HEADLINE: BRAUN RARELY VOTED AGAINST PARTY, DONNELLY CROSSES LINE MORE OFTEN THAN MOST. The IndyStar looks at former State Rep. Mike Braun’s record to discover – contrary to his claims – he has not stood up to party leadership and in fact “showed little of that independence in the votes he cast during his three years in the state legislature.” Of more than 1,400 votes, he disagreed with his party just two percent of the time, like for example when he voted against expanding Medicaid.

Meanwhile, Donnelly has “regularly crossed party lines in Washington more often than most.”

MORE INDIANA:  NWI TIMES ENDORSES DONNELLY.  Indiana’s second-largest daily newspaper, which endorsed Todd Young in 2016, endorsed Joe Donnelly this morning, citing his bipartisan style and deep knowledge of local issues:

  • Donnelly’s knowledge and champion’s role in projects and policies beneficial to Northwest Indiana give him a clear edge over Republican challenger Mike Braun, a former downstate Indiana House lawmaker.
  • When Braun spoke to The Times Editorial Board earlier this week regarding the South Shore Line expansion, he didn’t seem to have a firm grip where the project was in terms of planning.
  • Late last year, the Lugar Center, a think tank led by former U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, rated Donnelly second for bipartisanship among 100 senators on the 2016 index.
  • Donnelly also was named the second-most bipartisan lawmaker to serve in the Senate since 1993.
  • He reaches across the aisle, sometimes even voting with the President Donald Trump administration on common sense laws, regardless of their political origin.

MISSOURIANS CONTINUE INVESTIGATION HAWLEY DROPPED. The St. Louis-Post Dispatch reports how local attorneys are doing the work Attorney General Josh Hawley dropped by continuing the investigation of former Governor Greitens and his use of an encrypted chat app. Hawley isn’t one to take action unless it is politically beneficial, so he filed a report that said Greitens did nothing wrong – even though he “did not attempt to interview Greitens.”

  • Hawley complained that he did not have subpoena power as he investigated Greitens. He issued a report on March 2 containing no evidence of wrongdoing, but his office only interviewed a handful of Greitens staffers and did not attempt to interview Greitens.
  • Hawley also did not attempt to obtain text messages by Greitens staffers that were not deleted, and his office did not try to reconstruct messages deleted by the app.
  • Pedroli, meanwhile, filed a lawsuit against the governor’s office when it denied his Sunshine request last December — and copies of text messages he gleaned during discovery show, he says, that the app was used for substantial public business in violation of the law.
  • Pedroli thinks Hawley failed to aggressively investigate.
  • “A lawsuit should’ve been filed, which would’ve given him the subpoena power that he needed to get the answers to the questions under oath,” Pedroli told the Post-Dispatch. “The question that the attorney general’s office should ask itself is: How did a private attorney go ahead and get the subpoena power that he claims he couldn’t get?”

SCOTT’S “CLIMATE RECORD CONDEMNED.” Floridians take a closer look at Rick Scott’s climate record in the wake of yet another devastating storm and the ongoing algae crisis. The verdict: not good.

  • “He stands up in front of Floridians and he says: ‘Time to abandon your homes, you better escape before the hurricane comes,’” said Frank Jackalone, Florida chapter director of the Sierra Club, which links rising sea temperatures to an increase in the frequency and ferocity of major hurricanes.
  • Scott was a strong supporter of Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. He was also reported to have banned the phrases “global warming” and “climate change” from state documents, websites and even office discussions, an allegation he has repeatedly denied.
  • Last year, the Tampa Bay Times questioned whether Scott’s personal investments in the energy industry had helped shape the state’s lack of policies on climate change. The article claimed that chunks of the business-friendly governor’s $232m fortune were tied up with stock in petroleum and power-generating companies opposed to the restriction of greenhouse gases and other regulatory actions.



FL-National Journal: Palm Beach Post Endorses Nelson
IN-WBIW: Donnelly Provision to Expedite Infrastructure Permitting Passes Senate
IN-WBIW: Donnelly Votes to Overturn Expansion of “Junk” Insurance Plans
MS-Mississippi Today: Espy, if elected, plans to promote responsible parenting
TN-CNN: Phil Bredesen touts Taylor Swift endorsement in new video
WI-National Journal: Baldwin Leading Opposition to Short-Term Health Plan Expansion
WI-Urban Milwaukee: Senate Passes Water Infrastructure Bill that Includes U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin’s Reforms

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