Conservative group’s health ads slam top GOP lawmakers

FILE – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The conservative Club for Growth is targeting powerful committee chairmen and other top Republicans, part of an aggressive ad campaign to rally support for the GOP’s struggling health care overhaul effort.

The television and digital ads, unveiled earlier this week, pressure Republicans to a back a revised version of the GOP health care bill that Speaker Paul Ryan abruptly withdrew last month because it lacked the votes. The Trump administration offered a new proposal last week in talks with conservative lawmakers. Under the changes, states could seek federal waivers from requirements under President Barack Obama’s health care law that insurers charge healthy and seriously ill consumers the same premiums, and that they cover specified medical services like mental health counseling.

The ads will air in the districts of Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee who was instrumental in pushing for the original health care bill through his panel; Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., head of the Appropriations Committee who opposed the GOP bill; and Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., a chief deputy whip who helps round up votes for leadership.

“President Trump and House conservatives have come together with a new plan,” the ad says. “It lowers premiums by giving Illinois the freedom to end Obamacare’s costly and ridiculous rules. So, who’s standing in the way? Professional politicians like Congressman Greg Walden.”

The ad urges viewers to call Walden’s office.

Republican moderates and conservatives had mixed reactions to the White House proposal, and Congress left town for a two-week recess without voting on any legislation.

The Republican bill would repeal much of Obama’s 2010 law, including tax penalties for people who don’t buy policies. It would provide tax credits that would be smaller than Obama’s for many lower-earning and older recipients, and would also cut Medicaid, which helps poorer people afford medical care. In a major setback for the GOP, Ryan withdrew the bill after Trump and leadership failed to convince enough House Republicans to back the legislation.

Club officials had said they will spend $1 million on national ads on television and online.

The ads also will run in the districts of Republican Reps. Chris Collins of New York, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Martha McSally of Arizona, Pat Tiberi of Ohio, Charlie Dent and Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania and Evan Jenkins of West Virginia.

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