Wisconsin Public Radio

Health Care a Big Issue in Election

Key issue in Wisconsin; nationally 46% of House and Senate ads mention health care.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Oct 25th, 2018 01:15 pm
Nurse. Photo by Rebecca20162393 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons [ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Surgical_Nurse_.jpg ]

Nurse. Photo by Rebecca20162393 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Turn on the TV and you’re bound to see an ad about health care. Usually it’s commercials for pharmaceuticals. But with the election just around the corner, there are more ads about health care than ever.

Health care is the top issue in U.S. Senate campaign ads across the country, according to a recent report by the Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks political commercials at the national and state levels. Nearly 46 percent of ads for U.S. Senate and House candidates mentioned health care.

In Wisconsin, pre-existing conditions have been a controversial topic in the contest between incumbent Democrat U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir.

More Democrats are running health care ads than Republicans, which is a switch from previous years, said Wesleyan Media Project Director Erika Franklin Fowler.

“Discussion of health care this cycle is really driven by Democrats,” Franklin Fowler said. “We know that Republicans have been using this as a talking point in past cycles, whereas Democrats sort of ran away from the ACA (Affordable Care Act) after it was passed. So the laser focus on health care is because Democrats have come back to the issue.”

There are nearly twice as many ads supporting Democratic U.S. Senate candidates compared to Republicans, according to the analysis of commercials that aired from Sept. 18 and Oct. 15.

In governor’s races across the country the biggest issues were health care, education and taxes, with the two parties airing roughly the same percentage of ads overall. The exception is in Wisconsin where there are more Republican ads supporting incumbent GOP Gov. Scott Walker who faces a close race as he seeks a third term.

Health care has not only jumped to the forefront in ads; it’s also been a talking point at campaign stops.

Both Walker and Democratic challenger Tony Evers have had former federal health officials stumping for them in Wisconsin.

Last week, former governor and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson was in Green Bay.

The same day, his Democratic counterpart under the Obama administration, Kathleen Sebelius, was in Madison talking about protecting pre-existing medical conditions with Evers and his running mate Mandela Barnes.

Walker has promised to call a special session of the Legislature if a federal lawsuit against the ACA strikes down pre-existing conditions. Walker authorized the lawsuit filed by Wisconsin’s attorney general and officials in 19 other states. Whether Republicans have the votes to do so isn’t a given.

Listen to the WPR report here.

Report: Health Care Is A Top Issue In Midterm Elections was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

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