PHOENIX — In a windowless conference room, Republican Senate candidate Martha McSally was asking executives at a small crane manufacturing company how the Republican tax cut has helped their business when one woman said: “I want to ask you a question about health care.”

Marylea Evans recounted how, decades ago, her husband had been unable to get health insurance after developing cancer, forcing the couple to sell some of their Texas ranch to pay for his treatment.

Now she was worried about Democratic ads saying that McSally, currently a congresswoman, supported legislation removing the requirement that insurers cover people with pre-existing medical conditions.

“It’s a lie,” McSally said quickly, accustomed to having to interrupt a discussion of the tax cut to parry attacks on health care.

But she had voted for a wide-ranging bill that would have, among other things, undermined protections for people with pre-existing conditions and drastically changed and shrunk Medicaid.

The exchange demonstrated how Democratic arguments about health care are resonating with voters in the final weeks before the midterm elections.

While Democratic enthusiasm this year has largely been fueled by anger toward President Trump, candidates have targeted their messaging to focus more on health care.

It’s the subject of the greatest share of political ads on television now, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis, and a top issue in campaigns from Virginia to Arkansas to California – and especially in Arizona, where Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema has made it the foundation of her Senate campaign against McSally.

“Democrats believe that health care is the issue that’s going to deliver them the majority,” said Nathan Gonzalez, editor and publisher of the nonpartisan Inside Elections.

“In 2016, Democrats learned that going all-in against Trump was not the right strategy, so they’re trying to be more specific,” Gonzalez said.

The Democratic furor around health care comes from Trump’s push to repeal President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

House Republicans voted for a bill that would have rolled back parts of “Obamacare.”

But the Senate never took up the measure, and its own attempt to reverse the health care law failed by one vote.

This year, the Trump administration supported a group of Republican attorneys general who filed a lawsuit arguing “Obamacare” is unconstitutional. The administration singled out protection for pre-existing conditions as unsustainable.


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