Bucking national trend, Schwartz bets big on her backing of Obamacare

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

In a new campaign ad, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz touts her role in passing the Affordable Care Act and promises to accept federal cash for Medicaid expansion if she is elected Pennsylvania’s governor.

PROUD: U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz says she is proud of the role she played in passing the Affordable Care Act. Will Pennsylvania Democratic voters agree with her?

The ad, which began airing today across Pennsylvania, bucks the national trend of Democrats running away from the Affordable Care Act in ads and on the campaign trail.

I worked with President Obama on the Affordable Care Act and getting health coverage to all Americans,” Schwartz says in the ad. “It was my legislation that said insurance companies can no longer deny coverage for kids with pre-existing conditions.

It’s already been labeled the most pro-Obamacare campaign ad of the year — so far — after Schwartz unveiled the ad in the friendly confines of MSNBC during a Monday night appearance on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.

As the only member of Congress in the six-way Democratic primary field in Pennsylvania, Schwartz can set herself apart from the rest of the pack by talking about her work in Washington, which she seems willing to do, despite the potential liabilities it could cause in a general election.

“It’s something unique she can bring to the table,” said Chris Borick, a pollster and professor of political science at Muhlenberg College in Allentown. “And after all, this is a Democratic primary, so it probably plays pretty well to be able to say she voted for it and she supported it.”

Trailing in the polls and looking for a way to shake-up the race, Schwartz probably hopes to appeal to more-liberal-than-average votes who have disproportionate weight in the primary election. But it’s a risky move at a time when most voters are skeptical that the ACA is delivering its promised benefits.

Borick is set to release a poll next week examining Pennsylvanians’ attitudes towards Obamacare. Though he could not share specific data yet, he said the results generally are in line with what other polls have captured — support levels remain low, in some cases lower than when the legislation went into effect last year, he said.

If those facts don’t change and Schwartz ends up as the nominee, Republicans would love to use this ad against her.

Here’s a taste of what you can expect.

“Congresswoman Schwartz has embraced an extreme liberal agenda in Washington, DC and the disastrous healthcare takeover she helped to write and force upon hardworking Pennsylvanians,” Corbett campaign manager Mike Barley said in a statement Tuesday.

In the new ad, Schwartz also promises to accept federal money for Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania.

Corbett refused to accept the Medicaid expansion component of the ACA and has instead worked with the federal Department of Health and Human Services to craft a new program called Healthy Pennsylvania to expand state-run insurance options. It has not yet been approved by the feds.

But on that point, Schwartz is less than unique. Democrats of all stripes, including the whole primary field, have spent the past two years criticizing Corbett and legislative Republicans for blocking Medicaid expansion.

Even without the expansion, Pennsylvania’s Medicaid rolls have grown by 18,000 since October, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Tuesday, citing numbers from the state Department of Public Welfare.

More than 2.2 million Pennsylvanians are on Medicaid. That’s about one of every six residents of the state.

Contact Eric Boehm at Eric@PAIndependent.com and follow @EricBoehm87 and @PAIndependent on Twitter for more.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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