February 27,2020

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

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.