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Conservative group’s health care ads target GOP moderates

WASHINGTON (AP) — The conservative Club for Growth is launching TV spots pressuring moderate Republican lawmakers to support the party’s languishing health care overhaul drive, officials of the group said Monday in the latest salvo in the GOP civil war that derailed the House measure.

The ads press moderates to back a revised version of the measure that the Trump administration offered last week in talks with conservative legislators. 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.

“Come on board. Keep the promise that you and our party have made to finally repeal Obamacare and lower health care insurance costs,” Club president David McIntosh told reporters.

The proposals drew mixed reactions from Republican moderates and conservatives alike. Congress left town last week without votes on the legislation in a major setback for the GOP.

Club officials said they will begin a $1 million campaign Tuesday with national ads on television and online. They said they will run ads starting Thursday in the districts of 10 House moderates, but would name only two: Reps. Chris Collins of New York and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.

Collins and Kinzinger have both faulted conservative Republicans for wrecking the bill.

The ads could put indirect pressure on members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, who have opposed the GOP legislation for not aggressively repealing enough of Obama’s law. Several of them did not accept the revisions suggested last week by Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials, saying they did not go far enough.

Also Monday, a liberal group said it was starting a $1.2 million TV ad campaign aimed at seven House Republicans it said had not overtly opposed the GOP legislation. Save My Care said it aimed its spots at GOP lawmakers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida and New Jersey.

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.

The dueling ad campaigns were announced in the initial days of a two-week congressional recess both sides are hoping to use to bring pressure on lawmakers. Republicans are facing the prospects of raucous town hall meetings populated with liberal constituents and activists intent on pushing legislators to leave Obama’s law alone.

The Club for Growth ad features numerous shots of President Donald Trump as an announcer says Trump is working with conservatives “on a better bill.”

It ends with Trump saying during a speech, “We gotta get it done.”

Five of the seven Republicans targeted by the Save My Care ads are from congressional districts that Trump lost last November to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. One of them is Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

“Tell Issa — stop trying to repeal our health care,” the announcer says.

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