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ICYMI: Jared Kushner and Brad Parscale scramble for healthcare message amid coronavirus scare

February 27,2020

Paul Bedard

February 26, 2020

President
Trump, hit unexpectedly with the coronavirus scare and facing voter pressure to
focus on healthcare, is hastily moving to push a package through Congress to
help people facing growing medical costs, an agenda sidelined last year by the
impeachment debate.

In
an hourslong meeting with GOP senators, top aide Jared Kushner and Trump-Pence
campaign manager Brad Parscale presented a plan to get behind reform bills with
strong bipartisan support in the Senate and to push them across the finish line
before Election Day.

The
promise was embraced by key senators leading the healthcare reform campaign who
had worried that the GOP was entering the election with little to show on the
issue that voters regularly put at the top of their list of concerns.

Indiana
Sen. Mike Braun, one of those leaders and a former businessman who put in place
a successful healthcare plan that hasn’t raised premiums in 13 years, said that
healthcare was unexpectedly a top issue during the campaign briefing, attended
for a while by Vice President Mike Pence.

“I’m
pleased that it doesn’t look like we will be mum on the subject, and there
could be leadership from the White House,” Braun told Secrets after the meeting
with Pence, Kushner, and Parscale in the offices of the National Senatorial
Republican Committee.

Braun
has been worried that a Trump-GOP message that “Medicare for all” and
“being anti-Bernie” Sanders was weak. And with the coronavirus slamming into
the White House, he said it is critical for a strong healthcare message.

He
said he has confidence that the White House will help shepherd through reform
packages passed with bipartisan support to promote competition, lower
healthcare costs, cut drug prices and add transparency.

“Brad
and Jared said that needs to be something they are talking about. I’m hoping to
get some synergy behind it and bring it in to where we at least have something
to talk about in terms of what we’ve done and not let the Dems dominate the
issue,” said the first-term senator who has emerged as a GOP leader and Trump
advocate.

“It’s
important that we are out there reforming the industry, not being foot-draggers
and defending a broken healthcare industry,” he said.

During
the briefing, Parscale said that healthcare is the top issue with battleground
voters and that 95% of them cite drug prices as a key worry. They’ve also said
that the GOP isn’t doing enough.

Trump
has targeted drug prices and other issues, using executive orders to push
reforms. But those have been blocked by courts in many cases.

Braun
said the White House agrees that there is no time to waste.

“I
think Trump’s got a lot going with a good economy, but we all know that, if we
are silent on healthcare, the Dems are really good at saying that we don’t even
cover preexisting conditions, so that will be the story if we don’t have
something in place,” he said.



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