FOCUS OF THE WEEK
Reports Say Political Winds Shift on “Obamacare,” And So Do Ads
August 21, 2014, 11:20:11 AM
Mary K. Caffrey
Leading political outlets report today that shifts in public opinion on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or at least its components, have led US Senate campaigns to adjust ads accordingly, most notably in Arkansas.

However, the changes in tone toward the ACA, often called “Obamacare,” may not change the outcome of the 2014 mid-term elections, according to published reports.

The contest in Arkansas between US Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat, and US Rep. Tom Cotton, a Republican, looked predictable at the outset, according to a report on www.msnbc.com. But in recent weeks, a Gallup poll showed Arkansas led the nation in reducing its ranks of uninsured, after the Obama Administration approved a one-of-a-kind Medicaid expansion plan that allowed the uninsured to use federal funds to shop for private coverage, through the so-called “private option.”

In a new 30-second TV ad, Pryor, who is a cancer survivor, touts his vote in favor of the ACA as a plus for consumers. He never mentions the law by name, but instead mentions the individual benefits.

As reported in Evidence-Based Diabetes Management, a publication of The American Journal of Managed Care, the Kaiser Family Foundation and other polls since the spring have found that voters in states like Arkansas, North Carolina, and Kentucky – where the balance of power in the US Senate will be decided – consistently favor individual components of the ACA even while they overwhelmingly disapprove of the term “Obamacare.”

Among the most popular parts of the ACA are the ability to let adult children stay on a parent’s plan to age 26, and the right to gain coverage despite pre-existing conditions.

The well-read blog Talking Points Memo this morning offered a similar report, citing the Pryor ad and recent commentary in the Kentucky race between incumbent Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, and Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat. National commentators have criticized McConnell for saying that a repeal of Obamacare would not affect those in Kentucky who have joined the ranks of the insured through Kynect, the state-run exchange set up by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear.

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