An or­ga­ni­za­tion

The Washington Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY SEAN SUL­LI­VAN sean.sul­li­van@wash­post.com Amy Gold­stein contributed to this report.

op­pos­ing the ef­fort to re­peal and re­place key parts of the Af­ford­able Care Act is pres­sur­ing five Repub­li­can sen­a­tors not to vote for the emerg­ing leg­is­la­tion in a new ad cam­paign.

An or­ga­ni­za­tion that op­poses the Repub­li­can ef­fort to re­peal and re­place key parts of the Af­ford­able Care Act is pres­sur­ing five GOP sen­a­tors not to vote for the emerg­ing leg­is­la­tion in a new $1.5 mil­lion ad cam­paign that be­gins Mon­day, of­fi­cials with the group told The Wash­ing­ton Post.

Com­mu­nity Cat­a­lyst Ac­tion Fund, which bills it­self as a con­sumer health or­ga­ni­za­tion, is tar­get­ing Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Su­san Collins (Maine), Dean Heller (Nev.) and Shel­ley Moore Capito ( W.Va.) with TV and ra­dio ads urg­ing them to vote no.

The ad cam­paign comes as other or­ga­ni­za­tions are ramp­ing up op­po­si­tion to the Se­nate GOP ef­fort. Last week, a coali­tion of med­i­cal and con­sumer groups held an event in Cleve­land that was billed as the first of a se­ries of gath­er­ings to speak out against a bill that passed the GOP-con­trolled House and the di­rec­tion that Repub­li­can sen­a­tors ap­pear to be head­ing. The coali­tion — which in­cludes AARP, two hospi­tal as­so­ci­a­tions and four dis­ease-fight­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions — has said it will con­vene events in at least three other states in com­ing weeks, with the next one Wed­nes­day in Reno, Nev.

The Com­mu­nity Cat­a­lyst TV ad, which tar­gets four of the five sen­a­tors (not Flake), be­gins with a scene of a young boy wheez­ing in his bed­room and his mother rush­ing to get his asthma med­i­ca­tion from a bath­room drawer.

“When this hap­pens, she isn’t thinking about the health-care bill in Congress,” the nar­ra­tor says. “She isn’t thinking that it’ll force her to choose be­tween fill­ing his pre­scrip­tions or pay­ing their mort­gage.”

“But our sen­a­tors should,” the nar­ra­tor later con­cludes. “So when they vote on the new health­care bill, tell them to think about what’s right for our fam­i­lies and vote no.”

The ad cam­paign also in­cludes ra­dio com­mer­cials run­ning in Alaska, Ari­zona, Ne­vada and West Vir­ginia that ar­gue that the GOP ef­fort will neg­a­tively af­fect se­niors.

The sen­a­tors tar­geted in the ads have ex­pressed some reser­va­tions about the emerg­ing Se­nate leg­is­la­tion or the process and time­line with which GOP lead­ers are craft­ing it. Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell (R-Ky.) and a small clutch of aides are writ­ing the bill be­hind closed doors as McCon­nell con­sults GOP sen­a­tors.

He said he hopes to bring it to the Se­nate floor by the end of June. But it is not yet clear how or whether he can get the 50 votes he will need to pass the bill. Not a sin­gle Demo­crat sup­ports the ef­fort, mean­ing McCon­nell can af­ford only two GOP de­fec­tions.

All the law­mak­ers tar­geted by the group ex­cept Collins come from states that ex­panded Med­i­caid un­der the Af­ford­able Care Act, known as Oba­macare. That was a sig­nif­i­cant part of the de­ci­sion to spend $1.5 mil­lion, Com­mu­nity Cat­a­lyst Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor Robert Res­tuc­cia said.

The House GOP bill would phase out Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion in 2020. Many Repub­li­can sen­a­tors have pushed for a more grad­ual phase­out in their bill, as well as pre­serv­ing cer­tain pro­tec­tions for pre­ex­ist­ing con­di­tions un­der the ACA not main­tained in the House bill.

Repub­li­cans ar­gue that their leg­is­la­tion will re­sult in lower pre­mi­ums. Democrats have warned of cov­er­age losses that would oc­cur un­der a bill to re­peal and re­place Oba­macare.

The non­par­ti­san Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice es­ti­mated that the House bill would leave 23 mil­lion more Amer­i­cans unin­sured by 2026 than un­der cur­rent law. The of­fice pro­jected that over­all pre­mi­ums would fall un­der the bill, al­though peo­ple with pre­ex­ist­ing con­di­tions would face higher pre­mi­ums.

The ads were pro­duced by the firm GMMB, which worked for the pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns of Barack Obama and Hil­lary Clin­ton.

The sen­a­tors tar­geted in the ads have ex­pressed reser­va­tions about the emerg­ing leg­is­la­tion.

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